Thursday, September 24, 2015

Spoilers - Creamy Tomato Soup

Arrrgh, Monday. Even though I no longer go to work, I hate Mondays on general principle. I hate this Monday because my back is on fire and breakfast got stuck in my esophagus. 

Now that you've got that lovely picture in your mind, let's move on to the important stuff. I have my (palpitating) heart set on making potato gnocchi to go with those lovely fluffy meatballs, but I don't know if I can stand up long enough to do it. Gnocchi is a stand-up production, what with ricing the potatoes, kneading the dough, and forming the gnocchi.  I am pumped to do this - I have a new cookbook, Pasta by Hand, by Chef Jenn Louis, and it is every bit as wonderful as the Amazon reviews and Mario Batali said it was.

My plans for today were simple: telephone the folks at the agency assisting me with the disability claim to go over some paperwork I received from the Feds; head over to the office with bubble wrap and brownies to visit with my peeps and pack up the rest of my stuff; and to try out one of the gnocchi recipes. Well, I made my call, and then everything came to a complete halt. Pain, bringing on panic, bringing on depression. Today is shot to spit, and any moment I am headed upstairs to my bed. The Advil is not making a dent in this.

Spoiler Alert: If you have not yet seen the first episode of "Doctor Who" Series 9, proceed at your own risk.

Yesterday, Rob and I finally watched the first episode of the new season of "Doctor Who". It may be a very short season as both Clara (his current companion) and Missy (the current iteration of the Master) were killed by the Daleks, who were in the midst of destroying the TARDIS just as the episode was ending. No TARDIS, no companion, no lifelong best frenemy - what's left? Who knows? Maybe it's the end of the series, much as I hate these short seasons. Maybe the Doctor will wake up from this bad dream just as Clara steps out of the shower. Maybe Michelle Gomez will turn back into John Simms. Maybe Steven Moffat will get off the kickapoo joy juice. Big thrill for us Whovians was the connection to a (much) earlier episode in which the Fourth Doctor contemplates life, death, and little children who grow up to be monsters. What else can I say? Stay tuned.

End of Spoilers, and don't tell me you didn't read the first word of the title of this post in River Song's voice. Goodbye, sweeties.

Such a lovely list of foods I want to prepare, besides the potato gnocchi: peanut butter bars, briami (a Greek ratatouille), Scotch eggs, and Glazed Lemon-Lime Ginger Cookies. Since I am not up to any of that right now, let's talk about polls and politics. The most recent Republican debate appears to have had a significant impact on the standing of the candidates for nomination. The Donald is still at the top, although his numbers have drifted a bit southward in the past week.  Oddly, or maybe not, he has been moving under the radar; maybe to let the latest controversy die down, or maybe to get ready to announce a specific plan for tax reform.

Carly Fiorina's numbers made a leap worthy of Angry Birds, jumping from around 11th to 2nd in the polls. As a result, everybody is now picking on her.  Hey, it's the American way. Chris Wallace of FOX subjected her to some pretty tough questioning, and she really did a swell job holding her own.

A few days after the debate, Dr. Ben Carson made a politically incorrect statement worthy of Donald Trump, stating unequivocally (on "Meet the Press", no less) that he would not support a Muslim for U.S. President, as Islam is inconsistent with the basic tenets of the U.S.Constitution. What was utterly predictable was C.A.I.R. (Counsel on American-Islamic Relations) calling for Carson to drop out of the race. What was unexpected was Dr. Carson's reaction to the hysteria. No apologies, no weaselly explanations like "that's not what I meant." Nope, in fact, his business manager responded that there are many Americans who believe the same thing.  If the individual starting his question to Donald Trump with the sentence "we have a problem in this country - Muslims" is any example, then Dr. Carson's business manager has a point. Besides, C.A.I.R is not a benign organization of peace-loving Muslims. Let's leave it at that.

Dr. Carson is presently third in the polls (he had been second), now that Carly Fiorina has jumped to second.  Of course, once the "low-riders" - my name for the low single digit candidates -  drop out, I expect we will see major reshuffling of the poll numbers for the remaining brave souls.            

Let's talk about the Democratic nominees, shall we? Okay, to start, it is no secret that despite my conservative leanings (do not interpret that as support of the Republican Party) I would vote for Hillary Clinton tomorrow if her name was on the ballot.  I have been waiting over 6 years to do so, and I can wait a little longer.  Although this drives my husband crazy, and although I am well aware of the problems Mrs. Clinton is facing, I am firmly convinced that she will make a wonderful President (and don't interpret that as my support of the Democratic Party).

Her main opponent for the nomination is Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont, a self-proclaimed socialist (although no one is disagreeing with his self-assessment) who is really giving Hillary a run for her money.  He pulls big crowds and polls big numbers. He is very personable, very knowledgable, and it is clear he speaks from the heart. He was born in Brooklyn, which gives him high points from me. But if I may, here are a couple of reasons Mr. Sanders will not be the nominee of the Democratic Party, and if I am wrong, the reasons he will never be elected President.

Bernie is 74 years old. Let's get real folks - everyone ages, even those folks who are doing everything possible to turn back time.  God don't make no junk, but He does believe in planned obsolescence, and we all start to really feel the aches and pains about the time Bernie wants to take on the toughest job in the world. Next, Bernie is a socialist, which places him to the left of Barack Obama.  My taxes are already supporting several families, I think I've shared enough of my earnings with perfect strangers over the past 45 years. And one other thing, which I hate to write, but the truth of the matter is that Bernie Sanders is Jewish. His mother was Jewish. His father's family was killed in the Holocaust. As an adult, Bernie spent several months on an Israeli kibbutz. The voting public of the United States is not willing to elect a Jew to the Presidency. Old prejudices run deep.  Sorry, Bernie.

NYC, 2013. Seriously.

Besides, Hillary's numbers are on the way back up, despite the strong presence of an undeclared candidate, Vice President Joe Biden. Uncle Joe needs to make up his mind - fish or cut bait - or just cut bait. I've seen Joe Biden make a run for the Democratic nomination before, and it was his first attempt that solidified my opinion of him. I never see an ads or articles about hair plugs without thinking of Joe Biden. Instead of being able to hide somewhere and let his hair grow so he would look youthfully hirsute, he had to sit in front of TV cameras, at the main table next to Teddy Kennedy, day after day after day during Clarence Thomas' Supreme Court confirmation hearing. The entire nation got to see Biden's vanity - and his aching, itching scalp - on display throughout the long, painful days of Anita Hill.

Nominating Joe Biden would be a huge mistake for the Democratic Party, because he is so closely aligned with the Obama administration, much more than even Hillary, and the country is ready for a change. It would also be a mistake for Joe Biden, the grieving father.  He just buried a child, and there is no more terrible thing that can happen to anyone, ever. Running for President as a way to forget the pain is not fair to him, or to the American people.

Governor Scott Walker just announced he is dropping out of the presidential race.  So it goes.

I really hate to leave you without a recipe, so let's call this Throwback Tuesday and this is one of my favorite recipes from a 2011 blog post. I subsequently made some revisions, which are in parenthesis:

Creamy Tomato Soup

In a large pot:

2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped

Season with kosher salt, black pepper, and a little sugar (dried herbes de Provence, sweet paprika, dried thyme leaves)

Sauté in a combination of butter and olive oil until soft and a little caramelized.  Then add:

1-14.5 oz. can well-drained petite diced tomatoes and cook with the onions until soft.

(Deglaze with a small amount of white wine, then)

Cover with:

Chicken Stock (Broth)

Simmer together

Then add:

1 jar Bertolli Spicy Marinara Sauce
1 jar Classico Vodka Sauce

Simmer everything together while seasoning to your liking.  Add more stock (broth) if too thick.  At end, lower heat and stir in:

Heavy cream or half and half to taste.

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