Thyme lentil potatoes

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I like the idea of slow food, and Sundays are perfect for all day food creations. Making home cooked meals is my favorite artisanal craft: you are constantly using your hands and you can perfect it daily.

When I am not watching TV I am usually thinking about food. As a result I tend to frame life goals around things I have seen on TV.

I recently had a conversation with some people at work about why some people live so long. NPR aired an interview with the 90-year-old Dick Van Dyke. He said the key to staying young is always keep moving. This is the same name of his recent memoir. He is constantly in motion.

Always Be Closing

Connecting the weird dot from old film stars to now, a gif in my mind runs Dick Van Dyke doing a little tap dance with a caption that reads: Always Be Moving, in the style of the ABC (Always be Closing) speech from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross where Alec Baldwin’s character motivates a bunch of salesmen to make the deal.

I think there is a lot of play with this dish. You could add more lentils and less potatoes for a more stew consistency, or pack on the tots like my current incantation which reads more like a casserole.

Simple contrasts pull this piece together: savory thyme mashed up with  sweet coconut. This recipe includes ingredients I got at the farm market and items already in my cupboard.

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Equipment:

1 Butcher knife

1 pairing knife

1 peeler

1 strainer

1 9″ x 11″ Pyrex dish

cutting board

1 large pot

Ingredients:

4-6 red skinned potatoes

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp thyme

2 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

1 can chunked pineapple

1 12 oz bag lentils

2 handfuls Brussel sprouts

Optional topping:

plain Greek yogurt

Directions:

Preheat oven at 400ºF.

Crush and finely chop garlic cloves.

Fill large pot 2/3 way with water. Heat on high.

Pour thyme, ginger, coconut oil, and garlic into pot.

Open bag of lentils. Pour in strainer. Rinse in running water for a minute.

Once water begins to boil, add lentils. Boil lentils for one minute and then simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off burner under lentils.

Open can of pineapple. Empty entire contents in Pyrex dish.

Clean and scrub potatoes. Use a peeler to remove blemishes and eyes.

Chop potatoes into 16ths. Set aside in Pyrex dish.

Cut each Brussel sprout in half. Set aside in Pyrex dish.

Pour lentils on top of vegetables in Pyrex dish.

Cook in the oven for one hour.

Remove Pyrex dish from oven.

Let sit five minutes before serving.

Optional: top with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Root vegetables

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I love food, so much so that I tend to have a strained relationship with it. Not that I always use food to problem solve, but I eat when I’m bored, nervous, or otherwise unoccupied.

I consider a scene in the TV show 30 Rock where Alec Baldwin’s character, Jack Donaghy, attempts to quit drinking. So instead of drinking, he knit a sweater.

30 Rock Replace the Ritual

I often defer to this mantra when changing my habits. Lately I have been eating more vegetables and when I am watching TV instead of sitting down I’ll paint at my easel. I don’t know if the art is that good, but it makes me happy and it is an activity that I lose myself in entirely.

The following recipe is something I tried today. I hope you enjoy it.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Equipment:

1 Butcher knife

1 pairing knife

1 peeler

1 spoon

1 9″ x 11″ Pyrex dish

1 small bowl for optional sauce

Ingredients:

4 orange beets, peeled of blemishes, cut into four chunks

handful of rainbow carrots, scrubbed

1 butternut squash

1 bunch scallions

1 bunch basil

4 cloves garlic

1-2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Coconut oil

1 spoon

Optional Sriracha Greek yogurt sauce:

1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce

4 Tbsp Greek yogurt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400ºF

Prepare vegetables:

Peel and chop butternut squash into 2″ x 3″ blocks. Set aside in Pyrex dish.

Wash four orange beets.  Scrub and peel blemishes off. Cut and quarter beets. Set aside in Pyrex dish.

Wash rainbow carrots. Peel if desired. Cut off root and end tips. Set aside in Pyrex dish.

Wash scallions. Pat dry. Finely slice. Distribute evenly over vegetables in Pyrex dish.

Crush and finely chop garlic cloves. Sprinkle evenly over in Pyrex dish.

Pour coconut oil evenly over vegetables in Pyrex dish.

Cook in preheated oven at 400°F for one hour.

When finished cooking, let sit for five minutes.

Optional Sriracha and Greek yogurt sauce:

Mix Sriracha and Greek yogurt together until blended in small bowl. Scoop desired amount on top of vegetables.

 

 

 

playlist

As I listen to songs on my playlist, the last thing I remember about them is I picked each of them out. I match up the feeling of the sound to the silent TV of movement that plays out on every screen ever known. I am alone sitting on the couch with nothing but my thoughts and mindless entertainment.

On HGTV there is a story of a young family moving away from home. From the states to the Middle East, they look out at their new home which sits on a man-made island, removed from the peril of what you might see in conflicted countries. Because the money builds places where you can escape to, a place free from fear and judgement. How on this globe there is no other escape from it except for complete isolation, and perhaps being a tourist in a foreign land grants us an imitation of this solitude.

There is a place I go sometimes to skip all of it. I tread water in the middle of a pond and my ears underwater hear something that I cannot describe to you, but it holds this feeling.

Because floating islands afford us the luxury of opting out of local unrest or the perils of life without silent agreements of democracy, there is something vague about leaving your home in exchange for an expatriate life. I remember how people have told me that when I move my problems move with me. I forget that I am inextricably linked. I feel like this is something similar to what moving to another country is, as similar as being put into a box that does not fit your expectations, or living in a town that has outgrown its admiration for you, or living in a snow globe. There is a connecting warmth.

I got the Jack

I enjoy the song at the ending credits of Bojack Horseman. In this Netflix cartoon show, Will Arnett plays a has been, washed up actor from 1990’s sitcoms in which he plays a horse. I am comfortable with him this way, and it ranks among the face cards in a deck of Will Arnett-themed playing cards.

I came to this conclusion because I tend to always see Arnett as different versions of Gob Bluth from Arrested Development. In 30 Rock he played the villainous Devon Banks. Although wearing more expensive suits and even more frustrated at his own incompetence, Will just seemed to be playing a version of Gob that exists on a darker time line. So the cartoon version of Will Arnett in horse form is an easy re-calibration of him into the Bojack of Gobs.

Media placement

The single most important part of my day is when I am alone in my car driving to work. Alone I listen to the thoughts of the day and prepare my thoughts, getting some interesting fodder for future talking points. This format, sitting in car listening to the radio, is a place I have been many times, and the first thing that I remember when I wonder why it is so important to me is that I feel like everyone is a blank slate.

We all start out the day in much the same way as Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. We all get to wake up, hit the snooze alarm, take a shower, drive to work, and all this is not often imitated purposefully, but is often the same process through which our bodies go every day. I feel lots of times in my life I am just carrying myself from one place to the next, in my pod, which happens to be a red pickup truck. Tons of places later, I still have my little space ship to listen to whatever I want, retort aloud to some ridiculous thing I heard on the radio, and no one can touch me. I feel it is a bit like living in the vacuum of space, where there is no feedback but one’s own input.

I feel like this isn’t the first thing I thought about when trying to answer why I ranked radio as my favorite form of media. I feel a little hesitant to admit that I instantly recalled that day fifteen years ago when I had just filled up my car at the gas station. I had been listening to the radio describe a plane that had flown into the World Trade tower. I recall in my mind, but maybe not on the radio the shape of the plane. Was it a cessna? Who was the pilot? Was he flying too low and missed his mark over the building, or was it engine failure? I flew that plane in my mind, thinking about how many people fly everyday, so what’s so different about this flight that he crashed?

After thinking those thoughts I got back in my car and drove over to the library. I remember talking to one of the librarians, or maybe she just spoke into the air, about there being two planes. How moments after I had gotten into my car, a second plane had hit. I remember the rest of that day in trips I took around the city, wondering about the tallest buildings in the country, and how many of them were safe. I remember thinking about moving to Canada. I ran around town with my thoughts in my little balloon and I was afforded the luxury of having no one else say anything back, no one else to wonder, except me.

There lies a steel drving man.

I used to worry more about automation. Where humans were John Henry and robots represented the steam engine, I envisioned an end-of-days scenario that played out like a man holding a hammer having just been beat by a locomotive. The symbolism in this story is that computers, the ever-present sidekick in the process of mechanization, are all too often taking the wheel in slow but steady ways. I look around and see Red Box, a computerized kiosk that provides movie goers with DVDs to take home for a night or two. There is no human there, simply an invisible hand that helps paying customers reach their dream of autonomous consumption.

By autonomous, I mean the person who wants to buy something does not need to interact with a human interface. Rather, one can simply press a series of buttons to get the prize. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime are much the same way, providing online streaming and/or physical copies of TV entertainment in exchange for a fee. You do not even have to leave your home, let alone say hello to another person. You’d think we were all extinct. To some people all this mechanized labor translates into a good thing: convenience, autonomy, and faster service. To others, it means you are out of a job. How people are affected by computerization will inform their impression of technology, good or bad.

In the 1980’s and early 1990’s my mother was a bookkeeper. This is one profession that has largely disappeared due to computers. Sure, there’s still someone who calls in asking for hours so we all get paychecks, but the proprietary software one could order off Amazon provides a more than adequate stand-in for an accountant. The formulas that extract income tax, exact wages, calculate FICA tax, are all standard features, and are arguably more accurate than any human hand.

Another job that has gone missing thanks to computers is the meat laborer. Although the centralized system that the FDA allows permits computerized factories to act like farms, this is not unlike the robots taking away your mothers’ jobs.

If you follow the food chain back from those shrink-wrapped packages of meat, 
you find a very different reality. The reality is a factory. It's not a farm. It's a 
factory. That meat is being processed by huge multinational corporations that 
have very little to do with ranches and farmers. Now your food is coming from 
enormous assembly lines...You've got a small group of multinational 
corporations who control the entire food system. ("Food, Inc.," n.d.)
"In the 1970s, the top five beef-packers controlled only about 25% of the market. 
Today, the top four control more than 80% of the market" ("Food, Inc.," n.d.).

The engineers in the factory farming industry deal with problems so the consumer 
does not have to deal with them. Eldon Roth explains how he remotely controls all of his meat packing plants from a single location. Although this demonstrates the modern 
convenience of computer technology, it also illustrates how through the process of mass production certain important details are overlooked. Eldon Roth says,
This is our operations center. We control all of our plants from here. Where's 
Chicago? Here's Chicago, Georgia, Utah, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, L.A., Ohio. We control all levels of the gearboxes, the speed of motors--we can change 
those all from here. We built something that--from a food-safety standpoint, we 
think we're ahead of everybody. We think we can lessen the incidents of E. coli 0157:h7. But I just started working with ammonia and ammonia hydroxide. 
Ammonia kills bacteria, so it became a processing tool. I'm really a mechanic. 
That's really what I am. We design our 
own machinery. ("Food, Inc.," n.d.)

The USDA signed off on the procedure of bathing beef in ammonia in order to clean it. Although I don’t think there would be a better way to clean laundry, this method for ridding red meat of impurities seems lie a sanctioned way of permitting poison into the food chain. Many people may have never heard of Eldon Roth, but may know him for his invention of finely textured beef, otherwise known as pink slime. The media coverage of this led to bans in school lunch menus and a public backlash that nearly dissolved Roth’s livelihood (Campbell & Gruley, 2012). This is one of the major setbacks of factory farming: it has to deal with the problem of feeding massive amounts of people. When you have cows who eat corn, this produces E coli in their gut (“Food, Inc.,” n.d.). As a result, when they are sent to be slaughtered, their hides are covered in waste, so the E coli gets washed into the meat (“Food, Inc.,” n.d.).

Why can’t we just feed the cows grass instead of corn, you ask? Two reasons prevent our break from corn: the federal government subsidizes farmers for growing corn. They have so much corn they feed it to the cows. It’s an easy solution for them. They’re getting paid to feed their livestock. Also, corn fattens up cows. It is a carbohydrate that is rich in empty calories. What it does is boost your blood sugar levels over a short period of time. The unused calories get stored as fat. Then the body crashes and craves more corn. The more corn you eat, the more weight you gain. Corn is just a cheap and simple way to fatten up the food supply, and computer farming helps, in its own way, by filling massive demands for the world’s consumption of meat. We shall see how future legislation and regulation will change the way factory farming works. Who knows? Maybe the federal government will subsidize grass, and we’ll start seeing more grass-fed beef. Or the more likely outcome will come about through consumer demands for change through boycott and selective consumption.

Related articles

https://wordpress.com/read/post/id/4900586/15549

https://dabearsman.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/the-great-mystery-between-a-john-hancock-and-a-john-henry/

References

Campbell, E. and Gruley, B. 2012. The Sliming of Pink Slime’s Creator. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2012-04-12/the-sliming-of-pink-slimes-creator

Food, Inc. Script – Dialogue Transcript. n.d. Retrieved from http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/f/food-inc-script-transcript.html

me likey

I have never been part of a focus group, but I have an idea in my mind of how one would work. In one of my favorite TV shows, 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin’s character leads a focus group asking which new name would be best for The Girly Show wherein Jack Donaghy flashes a carton of hot pizza in front of a group of people, saying,

“If you say you like TGS better, I’ll give you some pizza. Everyone likes pizza.”

And herein lies the focus group: there is a point on the Venn Diagram in which what you want to hear and what they want to know correlates with free food.

The Man Who Got No Whammies

“Winning that game show was the start of [Michael’s] downfall,” Larson’s brother, James, would later say. “It made him think he could trick anybody, and do just about anything he pleased.”

But it was also a feat that brought out the best in a man who was otherwise a delinquent: Recognizing the board’s flaws required keen observation skills. Mastering the timing of the generator took a unique combination of patience, dedication, and can-do mentality. And performing under pressure in front of a live studio audience demanded a special breed of composure.

In many ways, “gaming” Press Your Luck was the most honest endeavor Michael Larson ever undertook.

This story was written by Zachary Crockett.

Source: The Man Who Got No Whammies