This is Cecelia’s first time rollerskating. She attended her friend Adelle’s 8th birthday party at a roller-rink. Cecelia is 4 years old but it didn’t stop her from joining in the fun. She was determined to do it herself and didn’t care if she went against the flow of traffic to strut her stuff. She did very well and had a great time. It was very loud and hectic there with all the bigger people whizzing by, but she was focused.
Vegetable soup has many variants as anyone who has ever eaten soup knows. I grew up on vegetable soup my mother made, which had ground beef in it, making less vegetably, plus okra and lots of butterbeans, which are what we called lima beans, and other ingredients which ended up being very good. But more of a concoction resembling something between Brunswick stew(My mother was born in Brunswick, GA.), which is fantastic stuff but not for the novice cook with little time on their hands, and a beef stew/vegetable soup/gumbo. I have all her recipes, and I haven’t seen one for it, so it likely was something she learned to make from trial and error or her mother or my other grandmother Virginia, who was the best cook in the entire family, taught her. That was back when every kitchen, in the South at least, had a big vat of Crisco handy for frying your chicken, okra, fish, hushpuppies, fritters, green tomatoes, crabs, oysters, and pretty much everything when you grew up in South Carolina near the ocean.
Point being, there are as many ways to make vegetable soup as there are vegetables. But I’ve zeroed in on a way to make it that’s pretty easy, and a big hit with my daughter makes a lot and is cheap. It’s hearty, too and perfect for when the weather starts dipping. I use my crock-pot which makes it a no-brainer. Those criteria are what I base a lot of my cooking on these days. That hasn’t always been the case whatsoever, so I’ve learned how to cook a lot of stuff, which makes cooking easier and easier. It’s learning science and how to combine tastes, over many years, is all. I’ve made everything from stuffed whole squid, cut into rings, tentacles fried as an appetizer, to chateaubriand, and everything in between. Learning to cook is an invaluable skill, and it keeps you healthy because it makes you think and know exactly what you’re putting into your body. It makes you shy away from fast food garbage and processed and refined foods that aren’t natural. I’m not a health-food nut like some trendy Californian that only eats grain-fed organic blah-de-blah. But I know how to read labels and understand what is good and what to avoid. And the cooking method is essential as well. The less damage you do to the cells of your ingredients, the better. Boiling is violent, for example. Frying isn’t that bad for you appropriately done. Most people don’t keep their frying medium at a constant temperature as necessary, which is where things go wrong. I don’t fry much because to do it right involves a lot of dishes that have to be washed and stations and is an operation that’s out of scale for just myself, or me and my daughter. And I don’t want her to think frying everything is the right path, because it certainly isn’t. But one of my favorite foods is fried chicken. I rarely eat it, though. I probably eat more lobster than fried chicken.
I didn’t mean for this post to turn into a cooking lesson or an introduction to my personal diet, but if you’re making vegetable soup, it’s good to use whole, fresh vegetables if possible. Flash-frozen is also fine. Canned is starting to get into the oversalted and nutrition-loss territory. And then you need to have some excellent knife skills to prep your vegetables. It all comes with time and practice, I guess. I’ve been doing it for a long time now. And I plan on teaching my daughter everything I know, and she seems eager to learn, which is terrific, I think. That will make her healthy, independent, and of higher worth as a wife and family member for sure. As long as your family cares about staying healthy, and eating well, which I’ve learned the hard way, not everyone cares about. They’ll say they do, but then buy frozen-quick-fix one-pot meals or head to White Castle and behave much differently from what they say. I witness it. I choose not to do that, which I’m positive will be meaningful in how our bodies age and maintain health and cells. Diet was the reason my sweet dog Annie lived so long and healthily. I made sure I fed her well and not Alpo, which is what most Americans eat, and why most Americans are morbidly obese and out of shape. And probably why we’re now starting to not live as long despite medical breakthroughs occurring all the time and technology are allowing us to live longer if we choose. You can’t feed yourself a diet of garbage between 20 years old and 80 years old and expect your body to be running like it was back at 20, though. The fuel we use is essential.
I’ll get off my soapbox and back to the kitchen now. There are no real hard lines with this type of recipe. It’s adding more of what you like, less of what you don’t, but remember everything here has a purpose beyond taste. Here’s what I use as a basis for my vegetable soup:
Combine it all in a slow-cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Don’t overcook it, or it’ll be mushy, which is gross.
Beyond that, I add whatever I have around. My daughter said she loved tomato juice one day, so I bought some for her. She took one sip and decided she hated it(go figure). So I’ll add a can of tomato juice when/if the soup gets too thick. I’ll also add chicken broth if tomato juice isn’t available, which it usually isn’t. Can of peas? Toss them in. A bag of frozen corn, okra, or butterbeans? Go for it. Note that Okra tends to act as a thickening agent, so you’ll want to loosen up your soup some with the above-stated juice or broth or below-stated stock. Cabbage is good too but I tend to leave out Fall vegetables like squashes. Chopped cauliflower, yes. Chopped broccoli? You choose.
Another variation is I’ll add shredded chicken to it. I’ll either buy a cooked bird from the grocery store and pick it apart to put on there, or cook one myself in the crockpot or bake it, which is cheaper, avoids some additives, and you can buy a good quality bird, versus who knows what the grocery store used. They usually don’t tell you. You also can boil a chicken for about an hour with herbs, but that presents a tossup. You render out a lot of fat, but you also boil out a lot of flavor and juices and are left with pretty dry “boiled meat.” So I tend to avoid boiling chickens if I can. Baking them and cooking them in a crockpot is easy and not too messy if you know what you’re doing, and it yields some stock you can later use. It allows you to use some vegetables past their prime or the parts you usually toss out as aromatics. I try not to waste anything at all, and do a pretty good job, which is another reason learning to cook pays off. It’s thrifty.
If you want to add beans, like black beans, it’s perfect, too. But I rinse my canned beans, because the juice, which contains most of the sugars the beans leach off, is what’s responsible for the gassy aftereffects associated with eating beans. You can avoid that issue by rinsing the sugars off your beans well. If you use dried beans, good for you, but messing with dried beans and legumes is another worthwhile post. They’re healthy things that humans should embrace more of. We’ve lost the time and desire it seems when Facebook and TikTok and Fortnite awaits.
I let it cool to a temperature that’s above the danger zone for bacteria and put it in reheatable containers that are good portions for myself and my little girl, so all I have to do is reheat it in the microwave, put it in a bowl and serve. It goes very fast, so I never even have to freeze it.
I have a bunch of Twitter accounts, dating back over 10 years. And I’ve watched Twitter morph and ebb and progress and regress all over that time. It’s gone from resolutely allowing 140 characters, to one day allowing 280 for no particular reason. Twitter was a toy for a long time but has finally found a purpose with the President using it for real-time transparent communication with the world. Other than that, it’s still a toilet for people to vomit their poorly-conceived thoughts into and others to react in the vilest ways imaginable.
During the early years, Twitter, being Jack Dorsey, couldn’t figure out what it was even for. It was just a platform to blurt out whatever was on your mind. It had no real purpose, which is the main characteristic of Silicon Valley products. Products rarely have a marketing plan or business plan. There’s no way the creators of most of the apps and SaaS and creations that come out of Silicon Valley could go before a traditional banker and get a loan. That’s why they rely on pitching themselves and abstract ideas and faux numbers more than any bankable, workable idea or product.
As the product gains users (MAUM) only then can another round of financing be begged for. Most of these companies go years and years without a profit. Some never operate profitably. They just operate as-is, with the funders taking big salaries until they’re bought out and then they really walk away with giant sums of money. It’s ridiculous to think about. But that’s how Silicon Valley has been working. It remains to be seen if that business model will stand the test of time. I can’t believe it’s proceeded as long as it has. It shows what a bubble that part of the world operates in.
So Twitter’s been plugging along all these years, and currently serves as a real-time news source for the White House, which is great. For the President of the US to speak his mind in real-time, versus what we’ve had in the past which is carefully prepared statements that come to mean nothing and are dispursed to the outlets the administration wants them to be at a time the administration sees fit is an incredible, unique, and unappreciated degree of transparency.
So Twitter now sees itself as the holder of the power of free speech. A big, 1st amendment power. For, you see, not everyone is allowed to use Twitter. Twitter censors, suspends and cancells users and accounts as “they” see fit. “They” being actual individuals making decisions as to who and what can be presented. These individuals haven’t ever been identified as far as I know. They stand behind a wall of Twitter’s “operating procedures.” With only vague, abstract reasons for doing so, and no appeal available. North Korea should only wish to be so dictatorial.
Something that Twitter has also become over the years is a toilet. The worst, foulest meanest, primal things I’ve ever read have been on Twitter. People using nearly anonymous accounts to unleash their poorly-worded misspelled garbage upon the world. The hatred and bile spewed around are seriously concerning, knowing there are real people behind such thoughts, walking among us. And it used to be they were free to throw up their filthy putrescence all over Twitter. That was pre-2016 or so.
Now that there’s a republican in office, which Jack Dorsey isn’t down with, and that GOP member happens to be Donald Trump, which makes matter a code red to Silicon Valley leftists, there is a scramble to arrange who can post what, when and to whom.
This is a prologue to something that has happened to my account which I can’t figure out. I have never posted mean-spirited tweets. I may have posted some sarcastic or sharp-witted tweets that others without the same knack for literary twists can appreciate, but nothing that I would call “mean,” much less anything close to some of the undeniable garbage I’ve read and seen on Twitter. I also must point out, that nearly all of the filth has been posted by those on the left of the political spectrum. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed to post that crap, but it needs to be taken into account.
So, for the past few months, I’ve noticed something with my account. I have around 1,000 followers and I’m following around 1,500. And lately(for the past 2 years or so), for no particular reason I’ve been active on the platform. And others have been responsive to my tweets, and I’ve engaged in conversations, debates, and other back-and-forths that the platform was designed for. That has been a wonderful use for it, I’ve found for me personally. The best thing I’ve ever found Twitter to be useful for is that it’s allowed me to communicate with people I’d never have the ability to otherwise. Musicians, businessmen, a few global politicians, and people that I consider on another level of humanity because of what they’ve done or are doing that would be so far out of my reach otherwise that when I find myself tweeting and communicating with them, it’s beyond incredible. I won’t say who these people are, but imagine you coming into intimate contact with those you think are simply incredible people for whatever reason. And suddenly you find yourself communicating with them one on one. That’s what Twitter’s allowed me to do, which has been it’s greatest value to me.
But suddenly, about 3 months ago, my account went silent. I was still tweeting, as usual, engaging others in a discussion(or trying to) and posting and retweeting things with my commentary. And there has been no life derived from my activity. So lately I’ve intentionally been posting what I consider provocative and challenging statements and commentary to see what would happen. And guess what? Nothing! Not a single comment back from all of Twitter, even when I hashtag and @ all over the place. How does one explain that? The only explanation I can come up with is that “Twitter” has somehow silenced me. It otherwise makes no sense.
I searched through my emails to see if I received a notice of suspension or something from firstname.lastname@example.org to explain it. Nothing there. I looked within my account to see if I missed a DM or something to explain it. Nothing.
So, what’s the deal? It’s as if I’ve been muted. My tweets still exist on my Twitter page: http://twitter.com/mbmusgrove however, it’s as if there’s a mechanism in place to prevent my tweets form being sent out and from anyone seeing them.