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America’s Test Kitchen: The Make-Ahead Cook

[ 41 ] December 1, 2016 |


The Make-Ahead Cook came in a few days ago and I’ve already made two recipes from it. My verdict? If the rest of the recipes are as good as these inaugural dishes, this will become a go-to cookbook for me.

The Make-Ahead Cook is a collection of recipes that are meant to be assembled on one day, then finished and enjoyed hours–or days–later. It’s a collection of make-ahead braises, casseroles, slow-cooker dishes, and ready-to-cook meals that hold up well in the refrigerator. So, for instance, the make-ahead fried pork chops are coated in crunchy cornflakes, not breadcrumbs, which would get soggy during the wait. They also created recipes with an eye towards dishes with flavors intensified as they sat.

These guys are too good. The bastards turned me into a vegan,for a night anyway. I made their Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard Stew (confession: I used kale) and it was great the night of; it was divine the next day. So it’s a soup that really does benefit from many hours of simply sitting. (I didn’t have the time to let it sit for the recommended time.) I served it over rice and it was a hearty, complete vegan meal in a bowl.

I also made the Asian-Braised Slow-Cooker Beef Short Ribs, an astonishingly simple and delicious recipe with 6 ingredients, total. Which brings me to my next point: If you know anything about ATK recipes you know that at times they can be a bit…fussy. To be fair, they nearly always use ingredients that any home cook can get easily. However, some of their instructions can seem a bit, oh, pain-in-the-butty. But if the two dishes I made are any indication, this cookbook is decidedly unfussy.

I’m all in. For folks who like to who like to free up time in the evenings this collection is straight up a must-have.


Another Post-Mortem

[ 490 ] November 30, 2016 |


After getting over the worst of the shock from the results of the ’16 election, I’ve been trying to collect my thoughts and take some lessons from it.

1.) I’ve learned that R’s will beat feet to the polls for literally anyone. It doesn’t matter if candidate is a cranky Crypt-Keeper (McCain), a blundering, over-privileged automaton with good hair (Romney), or a sentient yam with bad hair–R’s and R-leaners VOTE. It’s why the past 3 elections–which had no business being close–were close. Angry white people vote en masse. Because they are motivated by spite, and, as I’ve learned, that’s pretty much the most powerful motivator there is. Until Dems and D-leaners vote with such passionate unity, we will be at a disadvantage.

2.) D’s and D-leaners obviously expect a Bill Clinton or Barack Obama to be at the top of the ticket each election. D-leaners clearly expect whipsmart men who employ soaring rhetoric to inspire their constituencies. So those of us work with the Dems (because as progressives that pretty much what we have) obviously need to offer up consistently (politically) sexy candidates (who–sad to say–should probably be men) or we can expect a dangerous number of liberals to sit at home with their thumbs up their asses, making smug, ironic podcasts.

3.) The breathless coverage of Trump’s scandals, especially the Access Hollywood misogyny was silly and naive. We live in a country awash in misogyny–even lots of women don’t give a shit about the kind of lechery and disrespect Trump exhibited. Until we fix our enormous sexism problem, we can probably expect more Trumps to perform well. As a smart tweep noted, the AH video probably did more to hurt Hillary’s campaign than Trump’s, because she took eye off the ball (a progressive economic message) and focused on something lots of Americans simply don’t give as a crap about (treating women shittily).

4.) My husband noted that the mood probably just wasn’t right for a Hillary candidacy. While he supported Hillary, he–rightly, I think–noted that Bernie Sanders came across as a fighter. And the American people were clearly spoiling for a fight. And a fighter. I think Hillary simply came across as dignified, compassionate and boringly competent. And a boringly competent continuation of the Obama administration was simply not something that was going get asses in booths.

5.) As I mentioned on twitter, I counted on a sort of latent, self-preservational snobbery kicking in with potential Trump voters. It’s not that I thought we’d get many switchers. But I thought a fair number of R-leaners might find him too vulgar, too stupid, too buffoonish to vote for in the end. I’ve learned that that was wildly naive…and this loops around to my first point–R’s will LITERALLY vote for anyone who runs with an “R” after his name. Literally anyone. Even a Nazi!

In summation, fuck you all, and I hate everyone.

Current Mood

[ 39 ] November 18, 2016 |
"Everything is Fine"

“Everything is Fine”


Just had family in and gearing up for the holidays… Plus, you know… dealing with this feeling that I’m living in a surreal nightmare. But I hope to be back with a substantive post soon.


[ 51 ] November 14, 2016 |

Listen, I never said my stuff was nuanced or subtle…

Stop the World

Stop the World

Oh, And…

[ 72 ] November 10, 2016 |

I won’t hold my breath.

Election Feels Open Thread

[ 120 ] November 10, 2016 |

OK, now it’s your turn.

What the Hell Happened?

[ 386 ] November 9, 2016 |


Can someone explain to me what happened last night? Why didn’t this happen in 2012? It’s not like there weren’t plenty of white folks itching to see Obama go at that point. Why Trump? Why now? Had we not maxed out the white vote? Did Trump just excite more voters? Did he truly max out the white, rural vote? Did he excite new white voters? I’m writing this through tears. Very confused right now.

“Newsradio” Election 2016 Fan Fiction

[ 41 ] November 8, 2016 |

Am I wrong in thinking we could all use a bit of levity now? And perhaps a shot or two of the hard stuff?

Please add your own Election 2016 fan fiction shorts.

The “C” in Charles C. W. Cooke Stands for “Cool”

[ 51 ] November 8, 2016 |


Resident since...well, pretty much forever.

Resident since…well, pretty much forever.

Now we know. National Review’s arbiter of cool has warned us that from here on out it’s Squaresville for us. Oddly, I am comforted by the idea that we have kept Republicans out of the Oval office so many times as of late, and will probably do so again tonight.

Barack Obama, Jon Bon Jovi, and Bruce Springsteen held a rally in Philadelphia last night. At the end, Hillary Clinton showed up and ruined the vibe.

Hillary–having read this–chokes back tears as she makes her acceptance speech after becoming the nation’s first female president. Somehow, it doesn’t seem worth it now. Charles fucking COOL W. Cooke doesn’t think she’s hip!


Neat, huh? But, watching it this morning, a thought occurred to me: This might be the last period for a while during which the Democratic party is cool. In two months, Barack Obama will be an ex-president, and, if today’s polls are correct, his replacement will be a septuagenarian Nixonian whose aides have spent the best part of three decades trying to make people like her. Although President Obama has been a poor salesman for his ideology — there are few ideas he has made more popular during his presidency — he is generally liked and admired, and he has been for a long time. Hillary is not, and nobody seems to be able to do anything about it. That matters.

Not quite enough though, huh?


Looking at the party’s future prospects, a handful of names come to mind — Cory Booker, Kirsten Gilibrand, Tammy Duckworth, the eternally over-hyped Castro Brothers — but one cannot help but be impressed by how limited the selection is.

Actually that list of names has me pretty psyched even if I’m not 100% in lockstep with them on all the issues. Why he’s arbitrarily decided the Castro brothers are over-hyped is beyond me. Maybe they don’t listen to enough Bon Jovi. *shrug emoji*


The Republicans, by contrast, are younger, more diverse, and come from a broader collection of states. The GOP is never going to be cool — a certain squareness is in the nature of conservatism — and, if the party continues as it has this year, it is never going to be taken seriously, either. But if it does decide to change, it seems well-set to do so nevertheless. Who are its leaders? The Senate Majority Leader is 74, so we can put him in the same camp as Warren, Sanders, Clinton, and co. But Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, is 46. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, the runners up in this year’s primaries, are both 45. And, going forward, the GOP has a strong range of younger guns just waiting to take the reins. Among them are: Cory Gardner (42), Tim Scott (51), Nikki Haley (44), Susanna Martinez (57), Tom Cotton (39), Dan Sullivan (51), Ben Sasse (44), Joni Ernst (46), Rand Paul (53), Scott Walker (49), Brian Sandoval (53) — and, for now, Kelly Ayotte (48). The oldest governor in the country is a California Democrat; the youngest is a Southern Republican. The oldest senator in the country is a California Democrat; the youngest is a Southern Republican. All is not as it seems in paradise.

This–THIS–is his closing case? It’s like he got super-depressed in the middle of writing that paragraph and just starting listing names and ages. If he weren’t such a dumb do0-doo head, I’d feel sorry him.

Pop Culture Notes: “Westworld,” “AHS”

[ 65 ] November 7, 2016 |


“Westworld” is a show that started off with loads of promise. It was a western! It was science fiction! It was two great tastes that taste great together! But as the show progresses, I find myself losing interest. I’m not entirely clear as to why. I suspect it’s because the show just flat-out resembles a western these days. There are long stretches of each episode dedicated to showing us one of “Westworld’s” “plots.” And even with The Man in Black causing chaos, it’s still plot…a western plot.

Honestly, the only thing that sold me on “Westworld”–aside from some of the lovely visuals–was the promise of a novel science fiction twist on the western genre. But as I said earlier, “Westworld” feels very much like a western now, not a psychological sci-fi drama. It’s entirely possible that “Westworld” is as fresh and innovative and interesting now as it was during its first episode. It’s entirely possible I’m just not its target audience. It’s possible I wanted “Ex-Machina Goes West” and it’s not the fault of the show that it’s not delivering that for me. It’s also possible that the show is setting us up for some spectacular things to come and I just need to hang in there. I don’t know.

I also pretty much have to turn my brain off to watch the show. Completely. Can’t think about the technology involved in creating robots that sophisticated. Can’t think about the liability involved in guests partaking of a world that violent, even if the violence is “controlled.” And after awhile the brain-muting gets a little exhausting.

What are your thoughts?

I’m enjoying “American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare.” I think the cast–aside from Lady Gaga–is stellar, and it is–as always–an exemplary delivery system for genuine chills and thrills.


An LGM once commented that it was difficult for him/her to watch the show because underlying all the horror was a deep sense of sadness. I find this to be missing in this particular iteration of the show, which is a shame, because I always felt it grounded the show…er, at least a little bit. Here I suppose the grounding element is the show’s commentary on reality TV culture–about how people will die to be famous, kill to be famous–literally. It’s about how the producers of these shows exploit that to horrible ends. It’s always been theory that someone some day was going to get killed or seriously injured on one of these awful shows.” Season 6 of “AHS” takes this to its logical, gory conclusion. The only problem is it took too long to get to this commentary, so this season feels a bit more hollow to me than past seasons.

I also confess to being confused by the Shelby and Matt’s love story. Perhaps that’s the point–perhaps this is an unreliable narrator thing. But at first Shelby needs a break from her true love, then Matt apparently secretly falls in love with some murderous, sexy Gaga-ghost, then Matt and Shelby seem destined for a reunion, then Matt is boinking his ghost-lover, then Shelby is murdering the “love of her life.” I feel like we’re missing some pieces here and unless the show is going to provide them later, I’m gonna feel cheated.

I also feel the show spent too much time indulging in “Polk Family Torture Porn.” It was at once boring and gross and unwatchable. Enough. The cannibalistic inbred family’s been done to death and done better.

AHS is a flawed show. The show flies too high to the sun most seasons and it gets burned every time. But I think it’s usually worth the ride and this year is no exception.

Empathy for the Devil…I-I-Mean Super-Nice, Misunderstood, Salt-of-the-Earth Types

[ 345 ] November 2, 2016 |
Gentleman who are anxious about the economy

Gentleman clearly anxious about the economy


The Washington Post has the oversized genitalia to publish this header: “What is this election missing? Empathy for Trump voters.” Hey, WaPo, I got your empathy right here.


Clinton Derangement Syndrome

[ 327 ] November 1, 2016 |


I think Jesse Berney is mostly right here.


You start with the assumption that Hillary Clinton is corrupt.

After all, there have been whispers and accusations and investigations and allegations and scandals with ominous names like WHITEWATER and BENGHAZI for years. Even if you can’t describe exactly what she’s done wrong, there must be something to all these stories, right?


And when you investigate endlessly, you find evidence. Emails and documents and memos and call logs and testimony. It adds up to thousands of pages, millions of words, piles of binders that make the perfect dramatic prop in a hearing room.

And we know all those documents must be suspicious. After all, they appeared because there was an investigation into corruption, so they must be evidence of something. Plus, there are just so darn many of them.

And with all that suspicious evidence, the conclusion is clear: Hillary Clinton is corrupt. And if she’s corrupt, we have to investigate her. And if we investigate her, we’ll uncover evidence. And if we find evidence, it must be suspicious. So she must be corrupt. So we have to investigate her.

And on and on it goes. For decades.

For more than half of my life. MY LIFE.

With zero information about what is in those emails, zero information about any connection to Clinton, zero new allegations of wrongdoing, the Times and much of the media treated this story with the kind of wall-to-wall coverage usually reserved for the first moon landing. Less than two weeks from Election Day, with early voting in full swing, cable news couldn’t stop talking about how damaging this story was for Hillary Clinton, despite having literally no new information about anything Hillary Clinton has done.

See how the cycle works?


Donald Trump’s campaign rallies are full of (deplorable) people shouting “lock her up,” but none of them seem able to describe exactly what she’s done to deserve a prison term, beyond conspiratorial nonsense. Clinton should be in jail because she’s corrupt, and we know she’s corrupt because we keep investigating her for corruption, the thinking goes.

Hillary Clinton is far from perfect. She never should have voted to go to war with Iraq, and that vote was a reflection of her hawkish impulses. Putting her email on a private server while she served as secretary of state was a stupid mistake (one she probably made, ironically, out of a fear of negative press attention). She and her husband have allowed sketchy actors into the Clintonland fold – people like Doug Band, David Brock and Lanny Davis – and rarely exile them out of misplaced loyalty. She can be calculated and cautious; a recent statement on the Dakota Access Pipeline protests provided a classic example.

Fair critique and even though I like Hillary, she should be held accountable for things she gets wrong. Period, full stop.

If only the conspiracy theories about Clinton’s villainy were limited to the Breitbarts of the world and the disturbed people who believe them. Instead, it travels a well-worn path into the mainstream media, through Fox News, the Drudge Report and Republican surrogates, all of whom have the attention of more credible sources. That’s how we end up with a CNN chyron Monday morning that read “FBI EMAILS PROBE DOMINATES LAST WEEK OF THE CAMPAIGN” – a self-fulfilling prophecy that proves the media has decided this story deserves immersive coverage, regardless of whether there’s evidence of wrongdoing.

Of course Comey’s letter deserved coverage. But the decision to treat it as a mortal blow to the Clinton campaign – to give it blaring headlines and the 24/7 talking-head treatment – has been ridiculous. But it isn’t surprising. This is how the Clinton Outrage Cycle works: assumption follows intimation follows accusation, and then it starts all over again. If only the facts – the sometimes boring but very real facts – of these scandals got half as much attention.


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