Saturday, January 28, 2017

I Wanna Go Surfing

Except I live in Buffalo and it's snowing.

But in between class preparation and recommendation letters and parenting it's nice to transport my mind to a warm place where there's surfing.

Stressful Times Call For Baking Measures

We live in stressful times. That's an understatement. I find that cooking and baking helps. Check out this unbelievably easy recipe for breakfast cookies. All you need is two ripe bananas, quick oats, and chocolate chips. I made them this morning. Nice way to start the day.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Martin Luther King, Jr. in March 1968

In March 1968, the month before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King went to Memphis to support sanitation workers on strike. In a speech, he said "You know Jesus reminded us in a magnificent parable one day that a man went to hell because he didn't see the poor. His name was Dives." Soon after in the speech, he said:

Source: pp. 353-354 in The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Edited by Clayborne Carson (1998). Grand Central Publishing.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Good Soup to Start the Week

When it's Sunday and cold, I'm probably making soup or chili. Today I made a tasty, healthy soup to start the week on a good note. It's Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Soup. I worked from a recipe at Peas & Crayons, click here to see it. I used two sweet potatoes and about 3/4 of a head of cauliflower. I chopped up the potatoes and cauliflower, sliced half an onion, and put them in the oven at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes. All you need for that is olive oil and spices. I had cauliflower and onions on one pan and sweet potatoes on another. The cauliflower and onions cooked faster, so I put them in the crockpot with 32 ounces of chicken broth and added the sweet potatoes a few minutes later. The recipe calls for vegetable broth, but I like chicken broth better. I used to always buy low sodium chicken broth but found myself adding a ton of salt for flavor. Now I just buy regular chicken broth and barely need to add salt. I added diced scallions to the mix, a few splashes of hot sauce, and that was pretty much game on. After only an hour of the crockpot being on high, I was surprised at how much flavor I already achieved. I thought of stopping right there because the potatoes and cauliflower were softened and I liked the taste of the broth. The recipe calls for then using an immersion blender but I don't roll with an immersion blender. Plus, I wanted to preserve the nice chucks of sweet potatoes and pieces of cauliflower. So I skipped the blender part. The recipe calls for adding cream cheese and milk but I used some half and half instead. I didn't measure it, just added enough to cream it up. I let it cook for another thirty minutes or so. It obviously sweetened the soup up, perhaps too much. I think I liked it better before I added the half and half. Don't get me wrong, the soup was good, very good, but I lost some of the wonderful salty chicken broth taste. I added a little more hot sauce. The recipe says to cook the soup for 4-5 hours, but I was all done in a total of two hours, including the 20 minutes of vegetables roasting in the oven. I put out oyster crackers and shredded cheddar cheese for add ins. This soup went over well in the Schoepflin household. Everyone but my 6-year-old liked it. Fine, little man, sit over there with your soupless lunch eating chicken nuggets, do what you have to do. Lol. My bottom line is this is a delicious soup -- you've caught my drift by now that half and half or other milky-creamy substances are optional. I think I might try this recipe sometime with curry powder. My life is an adventure and my memoir will have a lot to say about soup, so there you have it. One last thing: there is enough leftover soup for another meal. A lovely, nutritious, inexpensive soup, enough for two meals. Loving life, I am.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

What's Your Favorite Thing About This Rush Video?

Rush: a great rock band hailing from Canada with Geddy Lee as lead singer and bassist, Alex Lifeson on guitar, and Neil Peart pounding the drums. Music to my ears. Poetry meets sociology meets philosophy meets great riffs and music that makes you feel. Here they are back in the 70s with a great example of a three minute rock song, "Fly By Night." Watch it and please tell me your favorite thing that you see or hear.

a. Unconventionally long hair (using no product, mind you). Cheers for breaking gender norms regarding hair and refusing to use hair spray.
b. Lifeson's outstanding guitar solo beginning at 1:24
c. Peart twirling his drumsticks TWICE in a span of 14 seconds (2:08 first, and again at 2:22).
d. The lyrics. It's all about the lyrics. "Quiet and pensive/ My thoughts apprehensive/ The hours drift away"
e. Lee totally owning the ending. "My ship isn't coming and I just can't pretend.........."
f. all of the above
g. none of the above

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Time Al Roker Didn't Let Me Down

A few days ago, my wife showed me a Buffalo Chicken Calzone recipe making the rounds on Facebook (click here to see recipe). The recipe looked good to us, except for ranch dressing. There's no chance in H E double hockey sticks of using ranch dressing in a Buffalo anything recipe. We live in the greater Buffalo area, fyi. The interesting thing is that Al Roker doesn't appear to use ranch. He uses cream cheese (fine by me) and shredded mozzarella. Watch the video: he's solid in putting together the calzones while doing happy talk with Dylan and Tamron. I followed Al's lead and also added blue cheese dressing to my mix (I like the Marie's brand). Al went heavy on the hot sauce. I dialed it back a notch with our two kids in mind. Don't forget to put olive oil on the calzones, that's key. I think Al's look better than mine, but I'm pretty happy with how mine turned out. I make pizza all the time, but this was the first time I made calzones. I cut these in half. We had plenty for dinner and enough for lunch tomorrow. I used whatever pasta sauce I had in the house for dipping. All in all, Al didn't steer me wrong. I'll be speeding down Calzone Highway again soon. Oh, forgot to mention I served the calzones with carrots on the side just to feel better about things. You can always count on me to indulge in carbs and cheese and then be like "Hey but I also ate carrots, so I'm good." One other note: all this from one 16 ounce package of pizza dough.

Monday, January 9, 2017

My Meryl Streep Take

My Meryl Streep take is that everybody should watch Kramer vs. Kramer. It's an amazing drama about marriage, divorce, and parenting. Justin Henry provides one of the great kid acting jobs of all time as Billy Kramer. Dustin Hoffman steals many scenes, such as when he makes French toast for Billy but burns it because life is hard. I'm also known to cry when Billy and his dad eat breakfast together when they've worked their way into a quiet routine. I watch Kramer vs. Kramer whenever I'm lucky enough to come across it. It's also never mentioned as a Christmas film, which is a huge oversight. Every year there are insufferable debates about whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie which is about as interesting a debate as whether a hot dog is a sandwich. A hot dog is not a sandwich and I don't care if Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Meanwhile, people forget that Ted Kramer had to talk his way into a job at a holiday party because he needed income ASAP. He sits on a chair at a holiday party and waits to talk to The Man to get a job. He takes the job even though the salary is beneath him, because sacrifice. Die Hard is a film with gratuitous violence from what I can remember. Kramer v. Kramer is a great all around movie (also a Christmas movie, as now established) thanks to excellent performances from Hoffman, Henry, Streep, and others. Also there's a memorable scene when Henry asks a woman if she likes fried chicken but I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen the movie.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Most Beautiful Album Ever Made

The most beautiful album ever made is Kind of Blue. I've had the CD for longer than I can remember, but I'm not one to play CDs often these days. I have an iHeartRadio app that I frequently use to play music when I'm at home. I have stations for Miles Davis, The Strokes, Vampire Weekend, Frank Sinatra, to name a few. One of the first songs that played when I opened up the Miles Davis station this morning was Flamenco Sketches, which is an amazing song. The next song that played was by Bill Evans, who played piano on Kind of Blue. It was Peace Piece, a lovely song. Now that I've shared the most beautiful album ever made and have finished up my second cup of coffee, I am ready to return to syllabi composition.

I'm teaching Research Methods this semester and two sections of a Special Topics course I'm teaching for the first time. I'm calling the course Sexualities. The book I'm assigning for the course is The Social Construction of Sexuality. I'm excited about the book and the course. Oh my, It Never Entered my Mind by The Miles Davis Quintet is playing now. Spectacular. I'm going back to my syllabi now, goodbye.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 State of Mind

I was wrong in predicting Trump wouldn't win. But I remain in the camp that says we are in a post-fact society. I have mostly stopped watching cable news. I feel good about that.

I am not a good sleeper, but suddenly I am sleeping better than in many years. But I must be feeling anxiety about a lot of things. I had a dream last night about driving a car with breaks that won't work. It's a recurring dream, one that might end because I mentioned it. I once wrote about having a recurring dream of trying to stuff giant contact lenses in my eyes. Since I wrote that post, I haven't had the dream again. The stats I see about web traffic for my blog tell me the giant contact lenses dream post is one that gets a lot of hits. So I know I'm not the only person with weird anxiety dreams.

Listening to the radio today, I heard Chuck Schumer say "Make America Sick Again" a bunch of times at a press conference. I don't think that's a bad move. Republicans brand everything and get people to pay attention in slogany sound bytes. It doesn't strike me as a terrible idea for Democrats to get in on the action.

I don't know where America goes from here. Before you know it, the middle of 2018 will be here and the next presidential contest will be underway. Who am I kidding? It's already underway, we just don't know for sure who will be running against Donald Trump.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year (Pot Pie Edition)

I'm happy about my new coffee mug. It was a Christmas gift from one of my kids. I did some staging with this photo. See the cute little filter? It means I'm no longer popping 14 plastic Keurig cups per week and heaping them into a landfill. I'm also pleased to be saving money by using a bag of ground coffee instead of said Keurig cups. The bourgeoisie will get me one way or another, but I'm just here to drink decent coffee and hopefully retire before age 87.

Marriage is an adventure of sorts. They say a true test of marriage is if a couple can team up to make a pot pie without fighting. We passed. What better way to bring in the New Year than with a delicious pot pie? This was our dinner last night. We used two nine inch pie crusts. For the filling we used rotisserie chicken, a can of cream of chicken soup, and frozen vegetables (corn, carrots, peas, green beans, potatoes, pearl onions). Season the filling as you like. Less than 10 minutes to make and about 40 minutes in the oven. Click here if you need a starter recipe. 

Happy New Year, everybody.