Sunday, February 19, 2012

the whole world's going to hell, and I forgot my handbasket

Do you ever feel as if your dream life makes more sense than your real life? After reading the newspaper in the morning, do you just want to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over your head?
I present, for your amusement and/or horror, the following headlines. I dare you to click the links and read all about it:
  1. FDA To Review Inhalable Caffeine Over Safety Concerns
  2. Santorum Targets President's Christianity
  3. Why Do Mammals Go to Coffee Farms?
  4. Has Romney Lost His Way?
  5. For Space Mess, Scientists Seek Celestial Broom
So, after my morning "news" consumption, (and several cups of coffee, none of it inhaled) here's my take on what's happening in the world:
  Lots of people would rather not take the time to enjoy a nice warm beverage to give them a little boost in the morning...they'd simply rather suck on a plastic tube and get an instant high, and hey! The Food and Drug Administration suddenly decides that it should investigate if this is a healthful thing. Did you know that the FDA doesn't have to evaluate a product if it's labeled a "supplement"? 
  In politics, Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum seems to have run out of issues, and has taken to questioning President Obama's religious beliefs. It appears that  Mr. Santorum,  a well known  ill-advised nut job  religious scholar has concluded after extensive research, that Mr. Obama's theology is phony, and not actually based on the Bible. (My nice warm bed is looking pretty good right about now.)

  And while we're on the subject of coffee, scientists come up with the most interesting questions, like: "Why do mammals go to coffee farms?" It seems a much more interesting subject to ponder than whether or not someone's religious beliefs are based on the Bible or not...And at the very least, answering that question (about the mammals, not religion) may very well help us to save the planet in the long run.

   Meanwhile, back on the Presidential campaign trail, it seems that Mitt Romney, another Republican running for President, has lost his confidence. He's been pandering to the masses, trying to get them to like him. Last week in Michigan, for instance, he mentioned that "The trees are the right height", and then told a business group, "I love you". I guess he feels it necessary, after ABC News uncovered a story about him making Seamus, the family dog, ride on top of the car during a family road trip in the 1980s. Good old Mitt  said at the time that the dog actually liked riding in his crate on top of the vehicle (hurtling down the road at 60 mph?). And the fact that Seamus pooped all over the top of the car during that trip? I'm sure it was simply something he ate, right? Dogs will be dogs. Unfortunately, Seamus is no longer available for an interview.
Do you smell a cover up?

  Then there's the problem of space junk. We humans have been very, very bad about cleaning up after ourselves for millennia, but now that we've moved into space, the problem has gotten much worse. So much crap is now zipping around the earth at something like 17,000 miles per hour and colliding, then smashing into millions of pieces, that live, working satellites are threatened with destruction at every orbit of the planet.The U.S. Air Force currently tracks over 20,000 pieces of space junk like old rocket parts and broken satellites.
  According to the article, the Swiss, who have only two satellites, both smaller than a breadbox (apparently a universal standard of measuring satellites) are concerned about what will happen to them when they stop working. Anton Ivanov, a scientist at a top Swiss university said, "We want to clean up after ourselves. That's very Swiss, isn't it?" They're currently designing a kind of giant vacuum cleaner (perhaps it's a Dyson) to help clean up the mess.
Other ideas involve lasers, high altitude balloons, and machines that shoot puffs of air in the path of the debris. Then there's the ElectroDynamic Debris Eliminator -- Edde for short, it is apparently powered by a 6 mile long extension cord (they call it a "space tether"). Edde will sidle up to a piece of space junk and whip out a disposable net, catch the object and coax it to re-enter the atmosphere. The president of the company that designed this one says it would only take a few years and a few hundred million dollars to clean up the "near-Earth neighborhood".
Personally, I think we ought to leave it all up there. It could eliminate the alien invasion scenario...I mean, what self-respecting space alien would want to live in such a junky neighborhood, right?

I think from now on, I'll just stick to reading the comics. They're so normal.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

cooking by the seat of my pants again

Last night I was scrounging around in the kitchen trying to figure out what to make for dinner. I'd actually taken the whole day work, no plans, other than to simply goof off and do whatever I wanted. We had a nice breakfast, took a long hike with the pups, and both read the afternoon away. At 7:30 I suddenly realized I was starving and hadn't given a thought to dinner. So I rummaged around in the fridge, and here's what I came up with:

carmelized onion, mushroom and yukon gold potato tart
  • 1 frozen sheet of puff pastry, defrosted for about 15 minutes
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion, very thinly sliced 
  • I medium yukon gold potato, cut in quarters, and sliced paper thin
  • 6 or 7 small cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh or dried thyme and rosemary
  • 3/4 cup of grated parmesan or other hard cheese (I'm not sure what kind I used...I think it was parmesan, but it could have been manchego or asiago!)
  • olive oil (about 1/4 cup)
  • butter
  • Preheated 400˚ oven
Sautée the onion in about 2 Tbs of olive oil and 1 Tbs of butter, seasoning it with salt and pepper. 
When it's all soft and silky and golden brown, remove it to a bowl.
Add more olive oil to the pan, then sautée the thinly sliced cremini mushrooms and yukon gold potato, seasoning with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. 
While the mushrooms and potatoes are cooking, place the sheet of puff pastry on a baking sheet, and turn the edges over about 1/2 inch, then sprinkle about half the cheese over it.
Spread the mushrooms and potatoes evenly over the cheese, and then the caramelized onions over that, topping with the rest of the cheese.
Pop the whole thing in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve with a beautiful green salad. It should serve 4, but we were very hungry! Cut into small pieces, it would make a great appetizer.

Unfortunately, I never got a picture of it on the plate...
it was sooo good!