Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Adrenaline Rush

I almost rear-ended some guy tonight. I was driving in the rain. I noticed a pedestrian on the sidewalk. She was wincing, riding her bike in the rain. That sucks, I thought. I turned my attention back to the road and the guy in front of me was stopped (the guy in front of him had stopped to turn left). I hit the breaks. Too hard. The car slid. Oh shit. I pumped the breaks, thinking Oh-shit-oh-shit-oh-shit with every pump. I was able to stop in time. But afterwards I was all adrenaline-shaky. My feet and legs were all wobbly. Phew!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Dinner and Sharp Knives

I made a great dinner for myself last night. Following the recipe in the current Cook's Illustrated magazine (I can't link to the recipe, you have to pay to join their website), I made American Potato Salad. The recipe uses russet potatoes, which are a little crumbly, but absorb vinegar better than waxier potatoes.

While that was cooling in the fridge, I used the "Spice Rubs for Grilled Steak" article to guide me in making a rub. I made a mix of 1 t. ground chipotle, 1 t. ground cumin, 1/2 t. allspice and 1 t. black pepper to rub on a strip steak. I used my in-oven digital thermometer to broil it to a perfect medium-rare. The juiciness of the steak really blended those spices together.

For my vegetable, I had some green beans tossed with a fresh diced tomato and red onion, drizzled with just a touch of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (Actually, I learned that what I call balsamic vinegar isn't really balsamic vinegar. Only 3,000 gallons of the real balsamic are released annually. It costs about $150 for 8 oz.) I had a plum for my fruit and a chocolate malt for desert. It was a delicious dinner!

I got that issue of Cook's Illustrated for free when I signed up for the Americas Test Kitchen web site to get the pad thai recipe. I really like how they explain the process they use to get to the recipe. It's not just "here, do this," it's, "here's what I did, here's what didn't work, here's what tasters didn't like, so here, do this." Considering that, plus how delicious dinner was last night, I think I'm going to subscribe.

In somewhat related news, I sharpened my two "best" knives this afternoon (they're crappy knives, but the best in my arsenal of hand-me-down, cast-off knives). Yesterday I was getting frustrated cutting a tomato. Sliding the blade along the fruit would not bite. The blade just slid along the skin and left a little dent. I had to stick the point into the skin to break the surface. Then I could saw through it. But of course it squished the fruit and squeezed the juices and seeds out. How frustrating! Today, I remembered that I had a whetstone in one of those boxes of tools that I got when we cleaned out my grandparent's estate. To make sure I knew what I was doing, I watched a Food TV video on how to sharpen a knife. My whetstone has two grits, one on each side. Rough first, fine second, then finish the edge with a sharpening steel. I then plucked a tomato out of my garden and set to work slicing it. It was effortless. The blade just slid through the skin and eased its way through the flesh. I had clean slices with no squishing from a dull knife. This will buy me some time until I eventually buy a new, nice set of knives. Right now, my sights are set on Forschner/Victorinox knives. They were rated best by Cook's Illustrated.

Olympic women's beach volleyball is on the TV right now. They're hardly wearing any clothes. I'm going to watch it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Gift of Freedom

In a speech that President Bush made this afternoon, he had this to say in regard to America's current foreign policy: "Freedom is not America's gift to the world, freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world."

Since America is Iraq's liberator and since we gave freedom to the people there and in Afghanistan, is Bush implying that his actions are sanctioned by The Almighty? Is he implying that he's carrying out God's will?

How can anyone argue with that? If you're acting on God's behalf or carrying out divine will, well, that's it. There is no higher power, no one to answer to. Your actions are not only right, they are the only morally responsible actions.

Islamic Jihadists also claim to be on God's side. It is God's will that the infidels be brought down. It is God's will to create a Muslim the barrel of a gun if needed.

I'm not trying to say that Bush is a terrorist. Far from it. But Bush does seem to have a belief in right or wrong, black and white, with us or against us, saved or damned. We need to remember that there are grey areas and that there is room for doubt. We should not claim that we're spreading The Almighty's gift to the world...especially when it's by the barrel of a gun.