How Deep Is The Foie Gras Today?

How deep is the ocean?, you may as well ask. How high is the sky?

Today, boys and girls, President Donald Trump has been busy talking shit about his own attorney general and former best buddy forever, Jeff Sessions. I think this is probably because the president wants to get rid of Sessions and replace him with someone who will fire pesky independent investigator Bob Mueller, who is getting closer to discovering how Trump and the Russian government got together to assure “victory” for whom I believe will turn out to be the #FakePresident.

But that’s a story for another day, because also today, we get to find out whether our health insurance bills are about to triple in size, if we can get a policy at all. You see, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to call for a procedural vote to allow debate and amendments to the Great Republican Health Care Bill passed in the House earlier this year. You remember, the one that Majority Leader Paul Ryan rammed through the House before Americans could find out what it would mean for them. A few days later, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the House bill, if the Senate helps make it law, would cause 23 million more Americans to lose their health insurance than would be the case if Congress simply did nothing.

But no fear, McConnell is widely expected to swap out all the language of the House bill with Senate bill language. Except, what Senate bill language? We mere American citizens can’t know, because Senate leaders are keeping that a secret until maybe later today. But the last time they tried to pass their own version of a health care bill, they couldn’t get enough votes to get it passed. In part because some senators were worried at a CBO estimate that 22 million more Americans would lose health insurance under the Senate version. And in part because some heartless pricks, including Sen. Ted Cruz, who is alleged to represent my interests, thought the Senate version didn’t prevent enough people from seeing their doctor.

It’s funny how so many Republicans in Congress keep repeating this crap that they “have to” vote to repeal Obamacare and replace it with pretty much any damn thing, because “that’s what we’ve been promising our constituents for the past seven years.” It’s funny how they keep saying that even though it’s utter bullshit. For one thing, as Jimmy Kimmel found out, a lot of Trump supporters like the Affordable Care Act. They say they also hate Obamacare. But they don’t realize Obamacare and the ACA are the same thing.

The truth is, Republican constituents really like being able to afford going to the doctor when they need to. In November, after he won the election Donald Trump told 60 Minutes that Obamacare would be “repealed and replaced. And we’ll know. And it’ll be great health care for much less money. So it’ll be better health care, much better, for less money. Not a bad combination.”

Trump said similar things throughout the campaign. And, I submit, that is what a lot of Trump supporters thought they were voting for: health care that is twice is good for half the price. Instead, unfortunately, it appears likely we’re all going to get health care that is half as good for twice the price.

Posted in Government, Nobody Gets It Like They Want It To Be, Politics

Clean-Up On Aisle Four

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The guys from our favorite tree service company are like family – they’re here so often. This job took three of them about half a day to complete. The tree grew up in the middle of our driveway (long before we bought this damn old house). It provided shade for most of the uncovered seating area in back. The guys did a fine job removing every trace of the fallen pecan tree, grinding the stump into a small pile of sawdust.

Now, as was abundantly clear once they left, we bake in the sun.

Posted in Nature, Nobody Gets It Like They Want It To Be

Wind Kicked Up A Bit Yesterday…

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This pecan was burned fairly badly in our garage fire of 2013, but hung on, kept putting out greenery, and pecans, but yesterday was the end of it.

An approaching storm, a sudden down-draft pushed it over. Thank God the wind gust blew from east to west, toppling it onto our loquat trees instead of our garage, house or my garden. Clean-up commences later this morning. I’m pretty sure I’m the tree service guy’s best customer.

Posted in Nature

Waiting For The World To Change

It’s always been like this but, more than ever, the garden becomes a retreat from watching the daily dismantling of our country’s reputation, stature and dignity. It’s always something.

This year, whatever it is in Washington, it’s eggplants here.

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I’ve grown this vegetable before, several times. A strange semi-thorny little plant with alien, lovely light purple flowers and slow-growing fruit of a wide range of colors. If the Texas heat and the flea beetles didn’t suck them dry, we’d have a few tasty dinners in mid-summer. All that, I believe, has changed.

I bought this heirloom variety, Aswad. From the deserts of Iraq. Heat tolerant, incredibly prolific, with fruit the approximate size of your head, round and very dark purple. And the kicker: They taste great. The production is so high that you’d think these were hybrids instead of open-pollinated, but no. I will be saving their seeds for the foreseeable future.

So when I could only count on a harvest of eight or nine eggplants, I usually stuffed them in the Italian manner, and they were always good. But when the harvest is more likely to involve 30 or more 2- or 3-pounders, you find a need to broaden your repertoire. Thus have I learned the wonders of baba ganoush, among other things. This is a Mideastern dip with similarities to hummus, consisting mostly of grilled or roasted eggplant, lemon juice, minced garlic and a concoction of roasted sesame seeds and olive oil called tahini. At this point I’m really not sure how I got along without baba ganoush in my life before now.

A year ago, almost to the day, our entire yard was underwater, the Brazos River was washing over the entire neighborhood and the street was navigable only by boat. This year, the river is running at about 13 feet deep, instead of 55 feet, which is a relief. Nonetheless, we’ve had lots of rain, and “cooler” than usual temperatures, which in Texas means it hasn’t hit 100 degrees yet. That’s caused most of the garden to take off, including my home-developed Brazos Beefsteak tomatoes, the aforementioned eggplants, summer squash, zucchini, the ever-popular cucuzza, and various hot or hottish peppers.

Among that latter group is one I’d never heard of before this year: the Leutschauer Pepper, a somewhat-hot paprika pepper grown in Hungary since sometime in the 1800s, when the Hungarians brought the pepper back from neighboring Slovakia. Well. I’ve always wanted to try making paprika, and it turns out this plant grows easily in our weather, on big plants with lots and lots of peppers.

However, in order to make paprika, it’s pretty essential that you either have a food dehydrator or live in a climate dry enough to hang and dry stuff outside. That latter won’t work here, as humidity is kind of our state motto. So after some study, I bought us an Excalibur food dehydrator, the exact model of which you can see here if you wish. (I don’t do affiliate product advertising or any other kind of for-pay product placement from this blog, but Lord knows the Excalibur people should thank their lucky stars for the free plug. Actually, I don’t mind at all because I really like this gizmo so far and expect to preserve a lot of fruit and vegetables in it this year.)

For some of the best semi-hot paprika I have ever had, I take about six of the bright-red ripe Leutschauer peppers, cut them into four or so semi-flat pieces each, remove the seeds and membranes and spread them across one of my food dryer trays. Then I remove the rest of the trays, set the dryer on 125 degrees Fahrenheit and set the time for about 5 hours. Then I take the dried pepper chips from the dryer and put them in a cleaned-out coffee grinder. I press the button for a few second and then put the resulting powder into a jar. Yeah, buddy.

At 135 degrees, my new drying toy turns wet slices of fresh figs into sweet, dry fig leathers, which can further be preserved in the freezer. Good news, because it’s looking like we may have a bumper fig crop for a change.

Trump and the Republicans may still find a way to screw me out of my health insurance, but the good news is that they haven’t (yet) figured out how to cut off my food supply.

Happy Trails

Posted in Food, Food Preservation, Garden, Vegetables