Saturday, February 28, 2009

Everyone can be an artist...

"Are not painting and color inspired by love? Is not painting merely the reflection of our inner self, whereby even one's skill with a brush is surpassed? It has nothing to do with it. Color with its lines contains your character and your message. If all life moves inevitably toward its end, we should during ours paint it with our colors of love and hope. In this love lies the social logic of life and the essential part of each religion." -- Marc Chagall

I love this quote from Marc Chagall, because he seems to be saying that it doesn't matter if you can draw or not - that every person can express their own unique character and message through color. I think everyone can be an artist and should try putting color on paper or canvas. I don't have time in my life right now, but someday I hope to find time to do this.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Chicken Bryan

I really enjoy cooking and eating good food, and have collected many good recipes over the years. I've been thinking I might morph this blog into a recipe blog with photos, but I just haven't gotten myself organized yet.

One of the most amazing dishes I have ever had at any restaurant is the "Chicken Bryan" at Carrabba's. I found a copycat recipe from a Google search, but I think that it has way too much butter in it (nearly one cup!). Here is my variation. I'll try to remember to take a photo next time I make it, but that might be awhile, since BBQ weather is not exactly around the corner!

Marain's Chicken Bryan
Serve with steamed broccoli or spinach and a dry white wine
Serves 6

* * * * * Sauce * * * * *
1/2 cup dry white wine (110 ml)
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 Tablespoons butter (55 grams)
4 Tablespoons Chavroux (mild goat's cheese) (55 grams)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice (or to taste)
at least 1/2 cup cream (more or less - to taste) (110 ml)
ground black pepper
* * * * * Grilled Chicken * * * * *
6 chicken breasts, skinned
olive oil
black pepper, ground
* * * * * Topping * * * * *
fresh basil leaves
10 ounces sun-dried tomatoes (in olive oil), drained (285 grams)
11 ounces Chavroux (mild goat's cheese) (300 grams)


1) Sprinkle each chicken piece with salt and pepper and rub each piece with olive oil. Grill the chicken pieces on the BBQ for about 20 minutes.

2) While the chicken is being grilled, put the white wine into a small saucepan on medium heat and put in the chopped onion and the crushed garlic. Simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the wine is nearly gone.

3) Add the butter, about a tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition while the butter melts. Add the 4 Tablespoons of goat's cheese. Add the lemon juice and cream, but add it gradually and taste the sauce while you do this and add more lemon juice or cream, according to your taste. Later add some ground black pepper.

4) Rinse the sun-dried tomatoes under cold water. Just squeeze the tomatoes to remove excess water, then chop them into strips.

5) Just before the chicken is done cooking on the grill, preheat oven to highest temperature using grill setting.

6) When the chicken pieces have been cooked through on the BBQ, put them in an oven-proof dish large enough to hold all the pieces and the sauce.

7) Cover each piece completely with basil leaves, then cover the basil leaves with drained sun-dried tomatoes, then put about 3 tablespoons of sauce over each piece. If there is sauce left over and it will fit into the dish, put the extra sauce around the chicken pieces, then top each piece of chicken with a couple of scoops of the goat's cheese.

8) Put the dish into the oven (the rack should be at the highest setting that the dish still fits under the grill).

9) Grill for approximately 8 minutes (or until the the sauce around the chicken is real bubbly).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

a long-dead horse...

I've been a little under the weather, but also at a loss as far as what to write about, since what has captured much of my free mental space for the last eight years has shifted. In 2000, after the (still) unbelievable success of legal arguments not to count votes, I joined the ACLU. After 9/11, I started studying Arabic as a kind of rebellion against the demonization of Arabic-speaking people by the neocons and religious right. I wanted to be able to read their magazines and newspapers, and to have conversations with real people, and not just get the Western opinion and propaganda (this has since become a very long-term goal, as Arabic is unbelievably difficult). In 2003, I hoped and prayed that diplomacy would be chosen - that the inspectors would be allowed to finish their work - only to despair. In 2004, I found the book "The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11" by Dr. David Ray Griffin, suggesting in a very convincing manner other explanations than the official story and I became and will remain interested in this issue until a proper investigation is undertaken. The 2004 election result was a shock, since it was not in line with the exit polls or with polls in the run-up to the election. Further research produced information that electronic result flipping had likely occurred. I agonized nearly every day for approximately eight years about the erosion of democracy in America and, time after time, I watched Democrats in Congress cave in to every demand of the "administration" - it seemed inexplicable, as though the resident had some magic potion that turned everyone into obedient zombies.

I didn't follow everything in detail. It was all so much - too much - the warrantless wiretapping, Abu Ghraib, extraordinary renditions, Guantanemo, authorities no longer needing court oversight, probable cause, knowledge or permission of residents to conduct warrantless searches of private residences, the threat of indefinite incarceration at the whim of some goverment official. Even within the last weeks before the inauguration, further icky things were approved, like the dumping of millions of gallons of toxic waste from cruise ships one mile offshore of the eastern USA coastline.

Fortunately, about half way through these long dark years, I found some websites that became my daily dose of sanity: Glenn Greenwald, The Brad Blog, and The Existentialist Cowboy. Glenn Greenwald has the ability to explain legal matters in a way that is captivating and understandable and spoke eloquently and forcefully against the legal arguments used by Bush&Co to justify their lawbreaking. He is still speaking out about legal issues in a very understandable way, and it is worth subscribing to Salon to read his column without all the ads. Brad Friedman has been working tirelessly to inform public officials and anyone who will listen of the dangers inherent in the use of electronic voting machines - a true modern day hero of democracy who will go down in history as such. And Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy, raging against all of the atrocities, not only of the last eight years, but also of more distant times, showing connections between so many seemingly unrelated persons and events, and frequently putting into words frustrations that I had felt but could not voice - like a good thunderstorm to clear the air, he cleared my mind and helped me to see so many things.

I'm glad for and relieved about the regime change and believe that at least the intentions are more in line now with what the founding fathers had in mind, but I'm kind of wondering what Obama thinks about bipartisanship now that ALL of the Republicans and 11 Democrats in the House voted against his economic recovery package. Bipartisanship died even before Bill Clinton. The only "bipartisanship" has been Democrats going to the dark side. I wonder if he will somehow be able to revive this long-dead horse.