Archive for May, 2016

Cheese Ball Machine Gun

By From • May 31st, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local

Why not?H/T to Say Uncle.
[ This content originated at Musings Over a Pint ]

A Memorial Day Prayer

By From • May 30th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local

May we never forget to honor those who have sacrificed to preserve our freedoms.
[ This content originated at Musings Over a Pint ]

Born In The USA

By From • May 29th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local

I can’t claim to be a big Bruce fan, and in fact Born in the USA may be the only Bruce album I’ve ever owned. I do appreciate his music a lot more now that I’m older, and I probably should revisit his catalog. Anyway, I was thinking about the parallels between that song, and the way we approach Memorial Day in general here in the USA.

It’s no secret that if you go poll 100 random citizens a good percentage can not tell you what this day is about. We are not celebrating Veterans, we are not celebrating wars we’ve won, we are not celebrating 50% off sales on furniture, we are not celebrating anything. Memorial Day is a day to honor those who gave their lives while serving in the US military. Even among those who understand the purpose of the day, how many actually do anything at all today that can be interpreted as remembering or honoring those that died? And no, enjoying the freedoms they died to protect does not count. You are not honoring your grandfather who died at Pearl Harbor by being drunk in the kiddie pool by 2 PM.

So what is the connection to Bruce’s tune? Much like how many have turned Memorial Day in a jingoistic celebration of America’s foreign policy, many of those same people would tell you that Born In The USA is a rah-rah pro America tune. Reagan’s campaign staff made that mistake in 1984 when the song was on the charts. It is an easy mistake to make, and that mistake is the real genius of the song. It was originally written during the sessions for the Nebraska album, which is a very dark and somber look at America at a time when many questioned if its best days are behind it. Born in the USA didn’t make it onto that album, but when Bruce started to play with it again for the next album, the song jelled around a very bombastic riff and sing along chorus that on the surface, definitely sounds rah-rah America.

However, much like how we mistake the car and furniture sales and backyard bbqs as the point of Memorial Day, not looking beyond the first impression causes us to miss what is going on with Born in The USA. The song is about the hopelessness and despair experienced by a Vietnam Vet who saw his friends and family die in a war that was ultimately meaningless, and then comes home to a USA with a crumbling infrastructure, high unemployment and interest rates, and a general lack of enthusiasm for taking care of the Vets it sent to suffer in Vietnam.

That song isn’t celebrating anything, and really Memorial Day shouldn’t be a celebration either. There may be honor in dieing for your country, but it’s something we should hope for less of in the future, not something we should celebrate with a party.

Born down in a dead man’s town.
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground.
You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much.
Till you spend half your life just covering up.

Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

Got in a little hometown jam.
So they put a rifle in my hand.
Sent me off to a foreign land.
To go and kill the yellow man.

Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

Come back home to the refinery.
Hiring man says “Son if it was up to me.”
Went down to see my V.A. man.
He said “Son, don’t you understand.”

I had a brother at Khe Sahn fighting off the Viet Cong.
They’re still there, he’s all gone.

He had a woman he loved in Saigon.
I got a picture of him in her arms now.

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary.
Out by the gas fires of the refinery.
I’m ten years burning down the road.
Nowhere to run ain’t got nowhere to go.

Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I’m a long gone Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I’m a cool rocking Daddy in the U.S.A.

Side note: The mistreatment of Vietnam Veterans has been overplayed in the press. Not that they weren’t mistreated; they were. However we’ve been screwing over our Veterans in America since Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. Vietnam era Vets weren’t singled out for worse treatment. Maybe it was the contrast to the WWII hero’s welcome that their fathers received that made it seem that much worse. I’m not really sure, but there is little to no evidence that Americans in general were more hostile to Vietnam Vets than they were after any other war.

SOUS-VIDE COOKING – It doesn’t get any easier than this!

By From • May 29th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local
You may or may not have heard of sous-vide cooking. I know I hadn’t until I attended a cooking class and the chef was demonstrating this method with an immersion circulator. It definitely had me curious, but not so much that I wanted to run out and buy one. Looked complicated. It is a machine afterall, I knew I’d screw it up. It intimidated me. And the list went on. However, after seeing an immersion circulator demonstrated at another cooking class I thought, “I might actually be able to work that thing,” while my husband probably sat there thinking “I like the idea of my wife not overcooking my meat or fish any longer.” So guess what I got for Christmas? :) Then my research began. What is it? How do I use it? And what all can it do? After five months of experimenting with my precision cooker, which has been renamed “my baby”, the question is “what can it NOT do?” 

Sous vide, french for “under vacuum”, is a cooking method that has been used for years. Food is placed in a vacuumed-sealed bag and submersed in a water bath that is temperature-controlled. Typically the food is cooked for longer periods at an accurately-regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, ensuring the food is cooked evenly on the inside without overcooking the outside. This method of cooking can be done simply by using a kettle on the stove. However, with a regular food thermometer, it made the task of regulating the temperature very tedious and left you standing guard, ready to adjust the heat if the temperature started rising or lowering. With the invention of immersion circulators, the painstaking task of keeping the cooking temperature held steady is eliminated!

There are several different types and brands of these immersion circulators on the market. The one that I received as a gift was the Anova Culinary Precision Cooker. A printable temperature guide allows you to forgo the stress of standing over the stove trying to cook your meat or fish at that perfect degree of doneness only to realize you have overcooked it… again! NO MORE OVERCOOKED FOOD! Instead, perfectly cooked, succulent, melt-in-your-mouth bites of food that have completely lead you to believe you are a very high-qualified chef, even if it’s just in your own kitchen!

Once you start using the sous-vide method using an immersion circulator, it will be difficult to go back to standing over the stove calculating cooking times all the while knowing you still have several side-dishes to complete as well. Let the precision cooker handle the entree while you concentrate on your five-star side dishes. 

It has been so much fun trying new and different appetizers, entrees, and desserts with my precision cooker.  After seeing a video recently of a chef making one of my favorite desserts, creme brûlée, using the sous-vide method, I’m very eager to accept that next challenge to see if I can create that same delicate dessert. And since my husband recently bought me a kitchen torch, I’ve already gotten a head start! (note: do not have torch pointed toward a kitchen towel when lighting.) 

Whether you’re a professional cook or an amateur, once you see how easy it is to cook with an immersion circulator, you’ll want to keep trying new things for your family and friends to enjoy!

Below I have attached photos of just a few of our favorite dishes cooked the sous-vide method with my baby, the immersion circulator.
Sea Scallops – 123 degrees for 30 minutes
Swordfish – 130 degrees for 45 minutes
Poached Eggs – 145 degrees for 2 hours
3 lb. Turkey Breast – 145 degrees for 3 hours
Lamb Shoulder Chops – 132 degrees for 4 hours
2 1/2 lb. Pork Tenderloin – 144 degrees for 4 hours
4 lb. Brisket – 131 degrees for 48 hours

The annual luminaria at Fredericksburg National Cemetery

By From • May 28th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local, Photography.Local

Decisions, decisions…

By From • May 28th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local

Finally, the weather is pleasant, the sun is shining and the grill will be fired up shortly. But first, what’s on tap tonight? To answer that question, Colleen and I headed over to Maltese Brewing to pick up a growler fill. Of course, we had to first d…

Memorial Day

By From • May 28th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local

As we begin the unofficial start of Summer, please take a moment to pray for those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms. Celebrate the holiday with food, fun and friends, but do it remembering the reason behind it. Without our fallen…

Ballast Point to Build Virginia Brewery

By From • May 27th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local

Somehow I missed this announcement the other day. Perhaps so many breweries are starting call Virginia home that the news doesn’t stand out any more. Ballast Point Brewing, the makers of the popular Sculpin IPA series, like the Habanero Sculpin reviewed earlier, is planning to build a new east coast brewery in Virginia. Brewbound has the information…

The Commonwealth of Virginia is quickly becoming the San Diego of the East.

Ballast Point today confirmed plans to purchase a massive 259,000 sq. ft. building in Botetourt County, Virginia, where it will build its first East Coast production facility.

According to a press release from the office of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the company plans to spend $48 million to build the new outpost. Ballast Point spokeswoman Hilary Cocalis told Brewbound the new location will include a large-scale production brewery, distribution warehouse and retail taproom. The company — which was acquired by Constellation Brands for $1 billion last November — is also considering a restaurant component, she added.

The exact timeline and production details are not finalized, but construction is expected to begin later this year. I’m looking forward to visiting, and I hope the restaurant component comes through as well.

See “Ballast Point to Build $48 Million Brewery in Virginia” for more information.

[ This content originated at Musings Over a Pint ]

Spring Flowers on the Range

By From • May 26th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local

Colleen sent me this photo she took at the range from a few years ago. The plant is a native orchid called “Showy Orchis” or Galearis spectabilis. I actually remember quite clearly the day we saw the blooms when were shooting and she stopped to take so…

Not a bad way to spend the first nice day in a few weeks

By From • May 25th, 2016 • Category: Blog Entries.Local, Photography.Local