We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Wednesday, April 7. 2010
How has the American diet changed over the past 100 years?
Goldberg: How much taxation is enough?
They sent Volcker out to say it first
The guy who is going up against Barney Frank
The world's tallest building opens
Too late to short carbon stocks?
Current Senate race rankings
Gaming medical insurance in Massachusetts
Electric cars: The Coal-Powered Car And Its Discontents
A (Teddy) Rooseveltian concept: limit the size of banks. My question of the day, though, is this: Is KKR "too big to fail"?
The Case for Common Educational Standards. In 1950, 60% of the jobs required no particular skills. The world has changed.
The Menace of Strategic Default: Homeowners who walk away from their mortgages undermine our financial system.
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You have to admire their nerve. They create a huge financial crisis to punish us, then raise spending to punish us, then need to raise taxes because there's all this spending that we have no way to pay for, and the taxes are going to punish us too.
You don't have to like them, however. I don't throw around the world "hate" loosely - e.g. for peas, overcooked steak and your new hair - so when I say it, it actually means something. I'm on the verge of starting to hate Democrats.
In the past few weeks, I have learned to embrace my hatred of liberalism, because there is no way to look at what has happened via the Democrats and not recognize it as evil.
Why ethanol...it isn't really about the energy/climate impact it is about the agriculture lobby and the capability/capacity to grow ridiculous amounts of corn. You can only consume so much of that stuff so burn the rest for fuel.
It's just another economically irrational program by the gov and the agriculture industrial complex.
Wonder how many pizzas and tacos were consumed in the USA 100 years ago? I wonder how many people had even heard of them?
AS far as diet goes, I can't claim to know exactly what Americans were eating in 1928, the year I was born, but shortly thereafter I was introduced to real food. As I remember, we ate real eggs and bacon or sausage for breakfast -- and it wasn't turkey sausage -- and soup and cheese sandwiches for lunch, or even meats of various kinds [hamburgers were still not on the horizon for most folks, but we did have 'cube steaks, which Mom floured and then cut the flour in with the edge of a saucer]. And we had real butter, and the milk van delivered milk in those cute bottles which separated cream from the milk by a little bulging waistline at the top of the bottle. Or you could go the whole hog and buy a bottle of real cream, so thick and slightly golden and full of deliciousness, and it would whip up easily like a dream, to top your homemade gingerbread, or build your angel-food cake.
Ahh ... homemade angel-food cake was a concerted effort by the ladies of the household, who took turns beating the egg whites into gorgeous fluffitude. I can still see my indomitable little grandmother's flushed face as she took a turn at the beater.
Cooking was work, in those days -- noble work that kept the family healthy and happy. And not an electric beater or a Cuisinart in sight. My grandmother took me over to the grocery store, and introduced me to the head butcher [who really knew how to cut meat, by the way, not just take it out of the slaughterhouse package] and the butcher and Grandmom would discuss what looked best for the day. He had a mounted chart on his counter which diagrammed all of the meat cuts and where they were located on the cow or pig or sheep. It was pretty good show-and-tell, I can tell you, and I learned something new every time we went.
I remember chicken breasts when they were dainty, tender little bits of breast meat and didn't include the chicken backs, and were delightful little bits of luxury for special dinners. And I remember fryer chickens, when they were not long out of babyhood. Then there were hens, for roasting on Sundays, and last of all, old hens, tough old birds who were tired after a lifetime of laying eggs, so they were sold for stewing and other long-cooking techniques.
Where I grew up, in the upper Midwest, we had beautiful pale pink veal for chops. When I moved to Texas, they didn't have any real authentic veal [the luxury meat of Europe] just grass-fed young beef. Now they sell real milk-fed veal, so one can make French and Continental gourmet dishes with the real stuff.
But the government, in its overpowering stupidity, did something in the 1960s which ought to anger American gourmet cooks, and would, if they knew about it. They "down-graded" the rating of all beef. So 'prime beef' was no longer offered, in general, to civilian consumers and was reserved instead for expensive restaurant steak-houses. Government 'choice-rated beef' became the new 'prime', 'good' rated beef became 'choice', and 'cutter and canner' became 'good.' I know all this because I was dating a guy who had grown up in the slaughterhouse industry, and he explained it all to me, and then later, the government issued a boring little ill-written news release which confirmed it.
So if today's beef tastes tougher to you than it used to, it is. And that's why. I miss the Black Angus steaks we used to have, which would cut almost like butter on your plate. Wisconsin is not only 'the dairy state,' it is 'the beef state' as well. And we ate some beautiful meals there, with lovely well-marbled beef, delicious pork and ham, and sweet little chickens.
I hope you all enjoyed this trip down Memory Lane. I know I did.
Mmm, mmm ..... way to go, Marianne. If Maggie's had such things as "must reads," this would and should be one.
I am just shy of 50, but I was lucky enough to have 1) grandparents that grew up on farms, and 2) a big family. We used to vacation 20 or 25 people at a time in a rustic, 1920s seven-room cottage on Saginaw Bay, stopping on the way at my uncle's farm to weed and then pick his garden for the week's produce supply. Between my grandmother, my mother and "some of the girls," getting three meals a day on the table for that crowd was mostly an all-day affair, and the meals were wonderful and appreciated. We fished perch out the bay 200 at a time, the boys scaled and fileted them and we absolutely had a feast.
1928. That's the year my Dad was born. He still eats bacon and eggs every morning.
Your comments are spot on Marianne.
I recently got into it with one of the bloggers at Q&O over the subject of old hens. The industry calls them spent hens and he was convinced that made them unhealthy to eat. I couldn't change his mind.
One never sees prime beef in the grocery stores. The hotel and restaurant trade gobbles it up. I remember reading one buyer for a restaurant chain commenting that trying to buy prime beef was like trying to buy diamonds.
The problem with trying to feed cattle to prime is the risk that you will get them too fat and make them a yield grade # 4. Selling a yield grade 4 essentially means you get the price of the calf back, but nothing for the feed or anything else.
But I will say this about beef quality, the quality is still there. What the grading standards changed was that it allowed leaner meat, to make the grade with the quality you remember. They let the riff-raff join the club, so to speak but the grading changes did not change the quality of much of what was produced. The beef you desire is still there, it just takes a knowing eye to find it.
A closing thought from my meats class in college. No cut of meat is tough if it is properly prepared.
Sounds like the vacations of my youth, D, and Great Lakes perch, freshly caught and cooked within an hour of catching, is a lovely dish indeed...
I do love our Gulf Coast seafood. Shrimp and crab make a lovely meal, But I miss Great Lakes fish. Heck ... I miss the Great Lakes.
I live in Delaware now, so I get my share of good crab cakes. But on every visit to Michigan I make my way to the nearest restaurant serving lake perch.
Marianne: You reminded me of Mark Twain.
"In the summer the table was set in the middle of that shady and breezy floor, and the sumptuous meals--well, it makes me cry to think of them. Fried chicken, roast pig; wild and tame turkeys, ducks, and geese; venison just killed; squirrels, rabbits, pheasants, partridges, prairie-chickens; biscuits, hot batter cakes, hot buckwheat cakes, hot "wheat bread," hot rolls, hot corn pone; fresh corn boiled on the ear, succotash, butter-beans, string-beans, tomatoes, peas, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes; buttermilk, sweet milk, "clabber"; watermelons, muskmelons, cantaloupes--all fresh from the garden; apple pie, peach pie, pumpkin pie, apple dumplings, peach cobbler--I can't remember the rest. The way that the things were cooked was perhaps the main splendor--particularly a certain few of the dishes. For instance, the corn bread, the hot biscuits and wheat bread, and the fried chicken. These things have never been properly cooked in the North--in fact, no one there is able to learn the art, so far as my experience goes. The North thinks it knows how to make corn bread, but this is mere superstition. Perhaps no bread in the world is quite so good as Southern corn bread, and perhaps no bread in the world is quite so bad as the Northern imitation of it. The North seldom tries to fry chicken, and this is well; the art cannot be learned north of the line of Mason and Dixon, nor anywhere in Europe. This not hearsay; it is experience that is speaking."
not to interrupt delightful food reverie, but, did you mean to say, The guy who is going up against Barney Frank ?
Let me know next time they send a lackey to float the VAT or other "innovative" taxes. I'll be there with rotten tomatoes to make sure they know what we think.
The supermarket chickens are bred to grow quickly and are mostly mush. At our local farmer's market, I can buy real chickens, including the occasional aged hen or rooster. Now, there's a chicken you can cook into stock and still eat the chicken meat (with dumplings) when you're done! A supermarket chicken, after being boiled for stock, is papier mache fit only for feeding to the dogs. Aged hens and roosters are for coq au vin and other stews. Young chickens are for roasting and frying.
I'm still laughing over your friend's idea that there's something wrong or unhealthy about an old chicken. What does he suppose we should be doing with the hens that have stopped laying? Retire them on Social Security?