Little Richard died last week at the age of 87. The world became a lot less flamboyant with his passing. But the music we hear today, and the music a lot of us enjoy known as Rock and Roll would not only be different without his influence, it probably wouldn’t exist.
One of the best Little Richard sighting stories comes from me of my best friend’s wives, who’s from Knoxville:
I am so saddened by this news. Saw him in his Escalade in Nashville when he was living at the Hilton. Said to Miles “I think that’s Little Richard” Little Richard then yelled and waved across the parking lot “It’s me baby. It’s me!”
Little Richard, and Chuck Berry, were highly influential in their styles, both musically and in their attitudes. Little Richard is tame by today’s standards of fringe wildness and musically infused sexuality. Or should I say “sexually infused musicality?” But back in his day, he was new and transformational. And the budding young rock and rollers of the 60’s and 70’s took notice. Everyone wanted to be like them in their uninhibited vocal stylings, which was the embryonic stage for what became Rock and Roll. Even Elvis and The Beatles took close notes from them.
Little Richard was from Macon, Georgia, the home of the Allman Brothers as well, and birthplace of my own father. I was born down the road in Atlanta, and my mother was born over near Savannah in Brunswick. She and my Dad grew up in Albany, Georgia. But Little Richard heard and saw Esquerita, who was from South Carolina, where I’m from, and took his stylings from him. Small world. James Brown was from SC as well. And Don’ forget Jerry Lee Lewis.
And one of the biggest influences in Jerry Garcia’s playing was Chuck Berry. He played Johnny B. Goode at the ending of many shows, often as an encore, and one that he would shred in playing his guitar. It was a crescendo to make the night of music memorable and a song Jerry knew well.
Jerry went on to direct the Grateful Dead Movie, which was made available for free on YouTube. I uploaded there myself and it’s still there, amazingly, but I think YouTube made it private, to ensure I wasn’t making money from ads or anything from it. In any case, here it is:
I abhor moving. There’s no undertaking I like less, period. Although I’ve never been catheterized(Thanks be to God), I would rather be catheterized with a cactus than move. Yet here I go again.
I’ve probably moved twenty times in my proceedingly long life, which I’m growing more grateful for with each Sunrise. Back when I was 20, and even 30 moving was no problem. I didn’t have a lot of stuff. I thought I did, but I didn’t know what I was talking about. Now that I’m 50, I’ve picked up a few things along the way, including a beautiful little girl, who has her own set of belongings. So I happily add that to the equation.
As a sentimentalist, and collector of detria and interesting bits and bobs, and curator of the family items that were handed down from prior generations, I have a lot of stuff. Add to that my hobbies of playing guitar and tinkering and woodworking and all that and I have an interminable list of items that have to go from A to B. Every time I turn around, there’s something else that needs to go. It’s amazing. It’s like magic: “The suddenly appearing thing!”
The craziest thing is how much I’ve sold off and still have to move. My last move, which was compelled by a sudden separation/divorce, forced me to move an entire 4 bedroom house, with garage and yard and patio things elsewhere. I still don’t know how I pulled that off. My ex-wife left everything (but the daughters) and just ghosted in the middle of the night.
After living in that house, which was both a Godsend and a curse, for 3-1/2 years, I’m moving again. 3-1/2 emotionally turbulent years. I got divorced in that house. I lost my beloved dog Annie in that house. I got a great job and left a great job in that house. But the house was awesome for me and Cecelia. Plenty of room to roam and breathe and play and a creek across the street. A back deck and big basement and tiered front yard with river rocks bolstering each tier and creating a series of walls. Which was a nightmare to mow. I’ve mowed a lot of grass in my day, but that yar was the hardest to mow by far. Here’s a street shot. There are 3 tiers, down to the road.
What I have should represent the essentials. And a few “nice to have’s.” I sold 100% of my “nice to have’s” and what I’m left with is still a mountain of items.
Transferring the utilities and the internet was easy and pain-free. The movers, however, didn’t show up at their SCHEDULED time and rescheduled me for 3 days later without notice. Talk about bad form. So I have my bed and a couple of heavy/big items in the old house, another house full of boxed items and things that need to find a place to be kept, and a storage unit full of furniture and rugs. And some guy named Eli who has the rest, like my lawnmower and tools(hopefully) thanks to my ex-wife. My old landlord is tapping his foot for me to get out of the place, and rightfully so. But: reality.
So that gives me time to set things up at the new place and find out where I’m going to cram everything. It’s a considerable downsize. No basement, whereas the last house had a basement the size of Soldier Field with a fireplace and kitchen. Perfect for Cecelia to exercise in. Her exercise at the new house will be going up and down the stairs I guess. No more “tag” with marathon laps through the old rancher. I have copious photos to remember the place by. Really I just want to remember the time I had there with Cecelia.
She’s going to love this new house The neighborhood is ridden with children. And rabbits, who we have living in our back yard.
We’ve all heard this saying, and I’ve heard it as much as anyone growing up. At times I took it to heart, which was a mistake. And it goes back to my words of advice on life about being careful about who you take advice from.
When I think back, most people who told me this saying all got their jobs from family members, friends, and friends of their parents. But the jobs they got were short-lived, required no specific knowledge that made them an asset for the company and were token jobs of no real consequence. Jobs such as sales, politics, and I can think of one person who parlayed an acquaintance into a lifelong career via a political connection.
But I’m at a point in my life when I have enough road behind me to see patterns clearly and realize some hard and fast truths. Which is why I’m sharing this wisdom in the first place. I don’t want my daughter to have to learn all the lessons I did by trial and error.
It in fact IS what you know, and partly who you know from knowing what you know.
To get anywhere professionally you need to know more about something than others. Even if you decide to make living with your muscles instead of your brain, you still need to know how to perform your work better than others. Otherwise, people are going to skip over you and go to the next person who is the expert.
The more you know about something the more likely people are going to seek your input and insight. And through those contacts and connections, you tend to meet the right people in a network where opportunities present themselves more frequently. Makes sense, no?
For example, I have people reach out to me often to speak about what I think the future holds for WordPress and blogging software and technological areas that I spend a lot of time immersed in. As a result, I meet and know people that otherwise would be difficult to grab some time with. And they know people that are accessible to me if I ever need the opportunity.
I’d also like to emphasize that people like to help others when they know what they want and what they want to do. Think of it as being available to pitch to They aren’t there to figure out your life for you. Impress people with what you know and they’ll introduce you to the right people to make your dreams come true. If you know nothing but know people of influence, it doesn’t matter. You’re just wasting their time.
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love music. I always have. When I was growing up, my parents had one of those console stereos that were popular in the 1950s and ’60s that were about 6 feet wide, with 4 “speakers” (I imagine most of these pieces for entertainment furniture only had 2 speakers and the others were decorative) and a lid that opened to reveal the controls. Otherwise, it was just a big piece of furniture that sat there. It was very retro, made from cherry wood, if I remember, and included a turntable that had 3 speeds, and an FM/AM radio. I have no idea where it came from, but it ended up in my bedroom, and ultimately in our beach house at Holden Beach. I think it was either donated or left with the house when we sold it in the 1980s. But when I was a young boy and had it in my bedroom, I turned it into a “radio station.”
I also had a ton of records, which largely were my mother’s old 45’s from her teenage years that she took to the beach house she went to growing up at Alligator Point. Chubby Checker, Little Richard, and all the hits from the 1950s and early ’60s. Back when Rock and Roll were embryonic. In a sense, I’ve followed rock and roll from its birth to its death which was arguably in the late 1990s. That’s a debate that’s ongoing, and something I should write about in another post. The computer, pro music, autotune, and a few other travesties were the cause.
Anyway, she also had a lot of opera, country (real country like Willie, Waylon, Hank, Patsy, and so on.) And a lot of other eclectic music, including Tiny Tim and Steve Martin. A lot of classical records on very thick vinyl as well, from the early 1900’s. So I got to hear a lot of variety.
My first venture into music I liked was Jimmy Buffet. I listened to him a lot and had all his records. You have to think back then, I lived in a town that had 2 record stores. The Record Bar at the mall, and another Newsstand, that was more famous for the magazines it carried in the backroom behind the beaded curtain. And most of the records were aimed at older teenagers who drove vans and liked to party. I was about 12 or 13 at the time. So music was limited. We had a radio station in town but they played pop music, which I’ve never liked. Back then, that was Journey, Billy Joel, Men at Work, Toto, Asia, and the tunes MTV played a lot of back when they played music videos.
I went off to boarding school and my musical life changed dramatically and for the better. I fell in love with the Grateful Dead, The Cure, The Violent Femmes, The Clash, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, REM, The Replacements, Husker Du, The Smiths(which are still an eternal favorite), and on and on with what was considered “Alternative.” No one outside of college and boarding schools listened to these bands because they were only played on college stations and you could only find the music near big colleges like UVa, where I hung out, mail order, and taped from friends. I remember it being years before anyone back home had heard of any of these bands. And that was also when trading Grateful Dead tapes was a huge hobby for people. I had about 120, which I treasured, and which were stolen while I was at college.
The Grateful Dead is still my favorite, but I’ve gone through phases where I listened to other musicians and groups intensely for years. The Allman Brothers are also an all-time favorite, but I have gotten into other artists that I wanted to learn to play on the guitar. Doing so requires listening to them a lot. Like Jack Johnson. I learned about every song of his. And not barely listen to him at all anymore. You can see what my listening habits are at LastFM, which keeps a record of most of my listening habits by “Scrobbling.” I used to have a program that kept a spreadsheet of every song I listened to with date, time, and other random data in Google Sheets as well, but I’m not sure if it still saves those. One thing LastFM doesn’t do is keep track of Grateful Dead bootlegs I listen to and have downloaded. So while I think I have about 150,000 hours of music tracked I’ve listened to, that doesn’t even include probably that much it hasn’t.
One band I’ve solidified in my all-time favorites is Radiohead, which I’ve written about here before. Although Thom Yorke is hyper-liberal, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, his musical genius is apparent. Radiohead’s commercial success always turned me off, like Creep and Fake Plastic Trees. But I learned that those songs don’t represent what they actually write and play, which is simply awesome.
So I was excited to find this gem on Radiohead’s website. There are a lot of performances from Coachella nd in France and here and there on Youtube, but this is a great one from 6-17-2017. Check it out!
Mystery Science Theater 3000 has been written about before on this site quite a bit. But the Coronavirus has lots of people shut in with not much to do, perceivably. (It’s an excellent opportunity to do many things like learning a new skill, organize, read, exercise, and other activities that Americans often resist) Playing board games with the family can only take you so far.
But one solution, especially if you’re self-isolating, is to watch MST3K. A lot of people don’t get it. I understand that. But for the people that do get it, it seems to have become a coping mechanism during these days of staying in, solitude, and possible loneliness.
I’m a big fan of the show, which I’ve covered here. I haven’t and never will cross the line with taking to the extremes some fans do, which is building their robots, cosplay, and paying vast sums of money to sit in the front row at live events. I just watch the shows.
But the concept of the shows offers something to people who yearn for socializing. It’s like watching movies with your friends, and they are funny, wry, and consistent, which provides comfort to lonely people. You hear other people’s voices speaking up as if they’re right beside you, while you all enjoy some awful, campy, Ed Wood, Roger Corman, 80’s cheese-fest movies.
To enjoy them, you need to possess an extensive repertoire of references. Otherwise, you won’t get the jokes. That’s why some people don’t like it, which is understandable. They aren’t as obscure as Dennis Miller’s references at all, who I also love, but he prides himself on infusing the most cryptic references he can muster. He’s like a Crypto-comedian. Bring along your Thesaurus and plan on doing a lot of Googling. It’s like listening to Socrates doing standup at times. I watched his most recent show, which was good, but I couldn’t help but notice he’s older than I am and his hair is not grey. He’s dying it obviously.
You can binge-watch MST3K in several ways. Twitch has a channel that plays not only MST3K 24/7 but RiffTrax as well. RiffTrax is the spawn of MST3K and is the next best thing as far as a continuance of the original show there is. Joel Hodgson, the creator of the whole thing, tried to launch a revival of the show with Netflix, which bombed, in my opinion. It’s what happens when you mix creatives with executives and inject loads of money. You get something that resembles a product designed by a committee, which is almost always a flop.
Mike Nelson was the head writer for many of the episodes, and like it or not. He’s the mainsail. If the producers of the revival of the show wanted to do it right, they would have kept him around as a head writer. When I watched the credits of one of the new episodes, I counted approximately 30 writers. 30. Too many cooks in the kitchen.
So if you’re sitting around your house wondering what to do during this awkward time and want some company and to laugh, Mystery Science Theater 3000 may be your solution. I feel like I just wrote a book report.
With the Coronavirus keeping people shut in their houses and social distancing, quarantining themselves and self-isolating, it provides a lot of time that would otherwise be spent on productive activities elsewhere, and with people that we may not be able to spend time with. I can check both of those boxes, and on top of that, I’m making other transitions that fall right in the middle of this panic.
For one thing, I’m in the process of moving out of a house I’ve been in for around three years. The neighborhood is terrific, but the house is too much in size and cost. It doesn’t make any sense for just me and my daughter half of the time. I have a finished basement with a kitchenette, fireplace, and someone could live down there comfortably. I never even go down there except with Cecelia, who uses it like a gymnasium. I have a basketball goal, tee-pee, slide, and all sorts of forts and places to run amok down there, which she loves to do to get her energy out. She runs laps and shows me how fast she is, just like I used to do when I was a child, and my mother made me run laps around our house to get my energy levels in check. And the upstairs is Pee-Wee’s playhouse times ten.
And the upstairs is more like a clubhouse for a gentleman that’s been overtaken by a four-year-old. It’s a brackish environment of toys and elegant interior decor. This house has been a blessing and a curse. But it’s served as a comfortable, cozy home for Cecelia and me during this tumultuous time. There’s a creek across the street we go down to and play in, and it’s tranquil and safe around here, with only one neighbor. We have deer, possums, hawks, chipmunks, raccoons, snakes, and all sorts of animals that live and visit the property. The thing about houses is that eventually, you grow and outfit them to suit you. I have about 100 framed wall-hangings that are going to be a trick to use when I downsize to a smaller place.
And although I have a job offer on the table, I’m still looking for a more fulfilling job that suits my qualifications, goals, and desires. I’m in talks with people that can make that happen, but since everyone’s working from home, they can’t interview me, so that’s to be placed on hold until we return to “normal.” I’m very eager to get that show on the road. But it’s another transitional issue that’s currently occurring. Moving and getting a job in the middle of a pandemic. Fun.
This situation is also keeping me from seeing my daughter, who is at her mother’s house this whole time. Our house here is mostly boxed up at this point, and I sent all her toys to her mom’s until we get moved into the new place. So it’s been two weeks already since I’ve seen her, which is one of the most extended stretches we’ve ever been apart. I miss her terribly. I can’t get her and take her to a playground or library because everything is closed or in a public area where others might be. Louisville isn’t a hot spot for the virus, and it seems to leave the young and immunodepressed alone and hurt the elderly mostly, but there’s no reason to chance it.
So that’s giving me more free time than I’m used to. I’d like to learn a new skill, but what? Anything I’m interested in I’m already into. I’ve been writing, but there’s only so long you can do that before your mind says “enough.” I’m writing here because this site needs an updated post. I haven’t been posting anything but recipes lately, it seems, which might reflect the recent lameness of my life. I’m sure of that, in fact. When I lived in SC, I always had more than I knew what to do with my time, but in Louisville, there’s nothing that interests me. I don’t drink, so bourbon is out. I don’t like basketball anymore, which is the only sport this area cares about. The notion that horse racing is big around here is a result of hyped-up marketing by Churchill Downs for the Louisville Derby. Lexington is the horsey city. The Ohio River is polluted and nasty. The hiking around here is boring. And so on. I’ve lived here for seven years and explored everything I can.
So I’ve still been keeping my marketing chops sharp and reading business articles. I’m working on a book I want to give my daughter that details my life and our family with stories I remember about everyone. I’m the last one to know a lot about some of those things, so if and when something happens to me, it might be helpful to have those chronicles archived for posterity’s sake. And Cecelia’s. I’ve noticed that as my relatives get older, their versions of stories all change. I don’t know if that’s due to poor memory or to suit some type of desire to have things remembered in a more aristocratic and palatable way than what happened. In some cases, my relatives refuse even to believe some of the things I know happened even did. So living in denial is also a factor that dilutes these memories.
The grocery stores are something out of a dystopian movie with all the shelves cleared out. That makes eating hard for someone that typically shops for a few days at a time. I don’t stock up on foo like I did when I had a family to feed because it goes bad and expires, and I hate wasting food. So my diet hasn’t been the best during this time, which I don’t care for either. I have been able to catch up on a lot of Mystery Science Theater, which has been playing 24/7 here on Twitch.
This virus has been disruptive, to say the least. The tax filing deadline has been postponed, and the NCAA basketball tournament has been canceled (no spectators, at least), businesses have shuttered, public services all closed, schools all closed. It’s Polio all over again, with a few, but notable differences. Politically, technologically, culturally, and economically, we see what’s expected. Technology is trying to step up to the plate, politics bogging everything down, the economy taking a hit at the small business level and in the markets, and cultural divisiveness, as people have too much free time on their hands and a controversial topic being lit on fire by the media.
As far as my opinion at this moment in time on the virus, I don’t think the vast majority of Americans have anything to worry about. The people that do are the elderly and non-Americans in this country. The virus is concentrating on sanctuary cities in high-density environments. That’s the perfect place for an infection to spread, so that’s what’s happening. Children don’t seem overly prone to it, and neither do the healthy. And even though most Americans aren’t “healthy,” their immune systems seem to be ok at least. Taking precautions isn’t a stupid idea, but overreacting isn’t a solution for anything.
I’ve realized I’ve been cooking for over 4 decades now in some capacity. I began cooking with my mother making biscuits and cookies when I was a young kid and bumbled my way along through my mid-twenties when I began to try and learn how to cook properly and what cooking and food were all about. That is the age that I probably started taking dating more seriously and saw that cooking was a skill that helped in that pursuit as well.
Plus I had a job so I could afford ingredients beyond mac and cheese and frozen pizza. I already had a formidable library of recipes and cookbooks from my grandmothers and mother that was expansive. I still have a massive cookbook library but use the internet and apps and technology more than relying on them anymore. Just as I put my trials and recipes and thoughts and attempts her on my website than refer and make notes in my cookbooks anymore.
I’ve learned how to cook. Meaning what methods work best and why for different foods and what foods are comprised of, in starch and sugar content and fibrous vegetables and the differences between apples and potatoes and a vast compendium of knowledge amassed from cooking from so long. I wish I could say the same for my guitar playing, but that doesn’t keep me and my dependents through the years alive and healthy like cooking does. There’s also a very big economic benefit in learning to cook for yourself. Whether you’re cooking for four or one and 1/2, you become adept at managing scale as well. And learning measurements and all sorts of scientific skills.
When I had a larger family to cook for, the best investment I had was a deep freezer. I could buy and cook at scale. Now that I’m cooking just for myself and my young daughter, a vacuum-bag sealer is a great thing to have. I can save portions and don’t waste food. A lot of quality Tupperware containers are helpful as well.
I always have to be mindful of what everyone’s tastes are as well. Who doesn’t like mushrooms or onions or spicy foods or whatever. When cooking for me and my daughter I have to be careful of not over spicing foods or making things too hearty or savory or visually unappealing. I need to know what she likes and what she’ll try and eat. I’m lucky in that she’ll try everything and trusts me to not trick her into giving her something she may not like. I love having a deep level of trust with her like that. She knows I won’t try to gove her something I don’t think she’ll like, and I can cook all sorts of things that are comprised of ingredients that I know she likes. Eggs are very versatile so I can make omelets, quiches, and she likes spinach and cheese so those are great ingredients that I can use in a lot of ways. Wraps, and salads.
Something I try to make the best use of is one-dish meals, where I can use the slow cooker and cook a lot of vegetables into something that’s pretty easy, cheap and will last a long time and fill us up and we both like.
We don’t eat a lot of meat, and when we do, it’s lean like fish, shrimp, chicken or lean beef. I feed us roast beef instead of ham or turkey because it’s a low-fat high protein, low sodium and I feel healthier than most hams and turkey products that are sold out there. I use low-sodium white albacore tuna instead of chunk tuna fish which reminds me of cat food. It’s just better. I don’t use American cheese, I use whole traditional cheeses that are mild like provolone of buffalo whole milk mozzarella. I use sharp or extra sharp cheddar when a kick is needed.
I use the freshest seafood I can find and if fresh isn’t available I use flash-frozen whole cod, dolphin, grouper or actual fish, not tilapia or scrod. Same with vegetables. If I can’t find fresh I use flash-frozen. Living where I live now it’s different than when I lived in the South and along the coast where everything was farmed or caught fresh. Things have to be flown or trucked into Lousiville so I have to adapt. Or pay premiums, which lately hasn’t been possible.
So all this is a long prelude to what I’m cooking tonight. Cecelia loves mashed potatoes and carrots and peas and green beans, and It’s late January and 34 degrees out. So a nice hearty stewy type of dish would be nice.
Beef stew and Pot roast are too manly and meaty for a four-year-old girl. But something along that track. Shepherd’s Pie is great but is made from lamb, and I see no need to kill a lamb to feed my little family. But Shepherd’s Pie with beef is called Cottage Pie, and I can make something along those lines.
So I put on my mad scientist’s hat and here’s what I came up with, which I think should turn out nicely. The results for any project rest in the preparation, which is where most people make short cuts. That’s where the integrity of the meal lies and is the same in life, It’s what’s done when no one is looking. And it makes most of the difference in the output.
So here are the ingredients I used:
1 2-2 1/2 lb chuck roast. I bought it whole and cubed it myself. You could use low-fat ground beef but I wanted to take advantage of the low and slow method of cooking.
1 Whole yellow onion, diced
1 package of baby carrots, 16 oz. Using peeled chopped is fine too.
1pkg ranch dressing, powdered
1 pkg Italian dressing, powdered
1 pkg savory pot roast seasoning mix, powdered
1 can cut green beans, no sodium. A package of frozen green is fine.
1 pkg frozen sweet peas 16 oz. A big package of frozen mixed vegetables would work here too, including corn and lima beans. Even better. Use what you have or what’s on sale.
a mixture of AP flour, garlic powder, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper to coat cubed meat in
I cubed the beef, coated it in the flour/garlic powder/s&p mixture and browned it in a little canola oil in a pot. I set it aside and drained the fat.
I made a bed of baby carrots and onions in the slow cooker and layered the meat on top of that. I mixed and sprinkled the 3 packages of seasonings on top of the meat evenly. This type of seasoning is something I shy away from usually, but I know from experience, heavy seasoning is needed in this type of dish and I was curious what mixing the 3 types of most used store-bought seasoning mixes would yield. I poured the low sodium beef broth over that and gave it a gentle stir. See below for the results.
I go easy on the sodium for a number of reasons. Health being #1. Salt being over-used in place of flavor is another. Seasonings should bring out the flavor of the food, not replace it. Salt is inserted where there’s a lack of quality, like in salted butter and a lot of fast foods. It’s not healthy, and most people use table, or iodized salt, which is unnecessary. We’re not in jeopardy of getting scurvy anymore, and Kosher or sea salt is preferable. It has a cleaner taste and it doesn’t bounce off the food as table salt does. It’s flaky and should be sprinkled on at the right time. There’s a quick lesson on salt.
I put that on low for 8 hours.
With about 4 hours left I put in the green beans and frozen peas and stirred. Normally I would be tempted to put sliced mushrooms and chopped celery in but I had no celery and my daughter doesn’t like mushrooms, yet.
It turned out pretty good, but I’d probably leave out the ranch dressing mixture and rely more on aromatics like onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and gentle seasoning. I don’t like packaged seasonings, but for some reason, I went all-in on this one. I regret it and would rely on my own sense of taste and use fresh seasonings instead. Always better. I know it, and this was proof.
For my daughter and what I think would be better overall, next time I’ll cube the beef into smaller bite-size pieces. It was good this way for me, a fully grown adult male, but I can imagine it being too much for a young girl. It would also make it more tender, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.
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 email@example.com 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.