Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wednesday wandering and wondering

Don C. Johnson: 175and20 blog &emdash;

Go west young man!  Or something like that.  Apparently a lot of west Texas was moving eastward this evening, creating a neat looking sunset...  fun if you are a photographer or nature watcher.
Don C. Johnson: 175and20 blog &emdash;

Probably not so fun if you have asthma or breathing issues.

• Seagoville City Council meetings have become more exciting apparently, with council members at odds with the mayor at odds with the city attorney ... over some $70k of misspent money from the Economic Development Corporation.

I do like how the city's press release still tags "City of Opportunity" onto the end of the press release. I remember how much of a joke it was for that logo to be at the entrance to the park by the prison.  Seems oddly appropriate still.

Then there is the other press release with the city council distancing themselves from the mayor's statements.  Without knowing the inner workings, I'd say the mayor may have a point considering a chunk of money went to put carpet in the City Manager's house, yet the council is "satisfied" that there has been no misconduct there.  Maybe he didn't know where the money came from... hard to say, but certainly doesn't look good.

• In other Seagoville news ... you have to be a bit crazy to rob a bank inside Walmart, right?  But apparently it worked.  And then he runs toward my neighborhood.  Yikes.

• I have seen the signs for a while now but failed to mention it... Crandall and Kaufman have met in the middle, claiming territory from each side down US175 until they meet around Bud Stoy road.  So, who is/was Bud Stoy anyway?

That would be this Bud Stoy, buried in Terrell, and family info here. More here.

But then there is this bit of a story.. wowzers ... Indian fighter and gay cowboy?  Wait what?

• Looking for Bud Stoy I came upon Uglybridges.com ... an interesting place to check out the spans you drive over every day.  If you are interested in that sort of thing.

• Kaufman gets a Whataburger.

• Terrell gets smoke-free bowling.

• And Forney gets Soulman's BBQ and Huddle House.

• The missing Malaysia Airlines plane is just mind-numbing.  When the best-case scenario is some sudden catastrophe with loss of cabin pressure or similar, that is horrific.

My wild theory?  Iran steals the plane (far fetched, sure) then loads it up to send toward Israel.  That's scary.

• And then there is Russia and Ukraine.  With so many parallels to Germany's rhetoric before WWII, it is hard to watch without cursing the ineptitude and lack of spine among other world leaders in the face of a power player like Putin.

I'd like to think Russia is not like 1930's Germany, and Putin is not as ambitious as the Third Reich.  But if some faked military situation comes up giving Russia an excuse to invade ... well, we will all know better.

• There is a lot of floppin' in soccer.  Better to see this kind of play... take notes, kids.

• Pretty fun - Get an idea what US English may sound like to people from other countries (and lots of other languages too).

• On technology - Seems accurate...

Happy Wednesday, Folks.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Food Day - These steak roll things

So there are some fancy steak roll concoctions around (a google will give you something like this) but this is not one of them.  This is down-home low-rent taste bud joy with a bit of pizzazz.
Don C. Johnson: 175and20 blog &emdash;

Note the large helping of salad.  Actually, that is Renee's mango bacon somethingorother salad that is probably worthy of its own blog post. (Spinach, spring mix, feta cheese, mango, bacon, toasted pecans, balsamic vinaigrette).

Back to the meat.

Early in my grilling career it occurred to me that a rolled up thin steak could contain any number of things, but a good combination would be something breadlike to keep the tasty juices around during grilling.  And so it does.... a little Stove Top Stuffing does the trick, throw in some mozzarella string cheese for good measure, wrap with bacon and in no time it is gooormay fine dinin'.

First up, prepare the stuffing ahead of time so that it cools a bit before you try to handle it.  Also soak some toothpicks in water so they don't burn up too quickly.

I used about 1/4" cut sirloin.  You don't want too much marbling in the meat because it has to hold together in the roll.  This batch did have a line of fat through the middle, so I ended up with two small strips for each serving instead of one bigger one.  This actually turned out great, as they were easier to control on the grill.  Excess steak bits cook up quickly and make great quesadillas later!

This time around I used McCormick Grill Mates steak rub, fresh ground pepper, celery salt and sea salt and let it sit for a few hours in the fridge before cook time.
Don C. Johnson: 175and20 blog &emdash;

Assembly station complete...  Lay down a piece of bacon, add a piece of steak, stuffing (compact it with your fingers to help it stay together), and cheese.
Don C. Johnson: 175and20 blog &emdash;

Roll up the steak first and make sure there is overlap, then wrap the bacon and put a toothpick through the steak overlap to make sure it holds.  After building a few, you figure out how much stuffing and cheese you can get away with in there.  Again, these were smallish steak strips.

Ready to go...
Don C. Johnson: 175and20 blog &emdash;

And after they were finished cooking.  These cook up really fast because they are small and thin, but you want to make sure the bacon has a bit of crisp to it.  Watch out for bacon grease fires :)  The grill was still really hot, about 350 degrees and I put these out toward the edge of the direct heat.  About 5 minutes per side was sufficient before I moved them away and let them cook a little more for another 5-6 minutes with the grill closed as the veggies cooked.

I cooked asparagus in a foil wrap, and that worked pretty well.  Without being able to see them, I cooked them a little long, but they were tasty and edible with a bit of grapeseed oil, celery salt and Penzey's Muskegee Chicken and Fish seasoning.

As a whole meal, it takes a little bit of doing, but the result is a unique combination of flavors that seems to work well together in a lowbrow home-cooking sort of way.  Which is good.

I should mention dessert as well.

No pictures so use your imagination.  Bake a yellow cake in a 9x13 pan.  Let it cool.  Punch a bunch of holes in the top.  Cook up lemon jello gelatin mix and pour it into the top of the cake.  Cool it down in the fridge, then top it with this... Homemade whipped cream (or CoolWhip if you dare)+ vanilla pudding mix.  Refrigerate.  Enjoy.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday Night Madness-March10 Style

The No. 1 British Flying Training School Museum is one of my favorite things in Terrell.  The good folks there have a dinner-dance event each year – a fun time with 40's big band music and such – which was great fun Saturday night.  It is a good reminder to appreciate those who have paved the way to the world as we know it.  More Pics here.  And at the Tribune. 

It is easy to skip our local historic places and go on into Dallas.  Sounds like some good blog posts for the future....

• The Kaufman Herald has instituted online subscriptions for news.  (Their sister paper the Terrell Tribune has been behind a paywall for several years now) It is hard to keep newspapers (and news organizations in general) afloat these days, so it is hard to criticize them for charging for their work.  On the other hand, I would love to see businesses step up and pay enough for online advertising to provide the news for free.  It is a transition that hasn't gone well anywhere I'm afraid, leaving local papers understaffed and communities underserved.

• That said, I also heard complaints that those two papers required ad purchases from political candidates for inclusion in their shared Voter Guide special section.  I don't know if that affected any votes, but it is sad to see any moves in the direction of paid content on the editorial side of the newspapers, especially for broadly important things like elections.

• Seems unnecessary, but 101 reasons to live in Texas. (Thanks Chris C)

• Another great Texas thing... Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman.

• Paul Burka's brief wrap-up of election night.    Despite the liberal Austin vibe, Texas Monthly is another thing to be proud of in Texas.  They make a great magazine.

• Speaking of which... I tend to agree that the media has missed the boat in trying to create a delineation between Tea Party and "Establishment" Republicans.  It just isn't that clear and voters would be better served by accurate reporting than lumping candidates into one camp or the others.  Of course, I've done the same myself because it is just so easy.

• And an interesting bit on Trial Lawyers' attempts to spin the election in their favor by adopting conservative names.

I love this.  Small government and socially conservative values reach way beyond the current demographics of the Republican party.  It's time that people noticed that.

• Has global warming science gone outside the realm of actual scientific principles?  I'd say probably, given the absolute certainty with which so many so-called experts argue.  That's the one thing about science, so very few things are actually settled.

• An Undertaking ... A woodworker takes on the task of making his grandmother's coffin. (H/T @jdblundell)

An Undertaking from Dark Rye on Vimeo.

I hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

TEA Party supported candidates sweep Kaufman County races (pretty much)

It was certainly a jubilant atmosphere at Kaufman's "It's better than good" restaurant Tuesday night, with raucous cheers as election totals came in.  For the self-described most conservative side of Kaufman County Republicans, it was a night of clear victories. (Kaufman County results)

Stuart Spitzer pulled out a victory in both Kaufman and Henderson counties, completely reversing the results of two years ago.

Political newcomers Bobby Rich and Ronnie Oldfield won in close races, and the Precinct 1 JP race and 86th District Court races will go to runoffs.  Each runoff race features a TEA Party candidate, so it will be interesting to see if that group will be able to carry the momentum and get people to the polls in April.

In a short speech to the crowd, Spitzer likened the campaign to a battle of "the sheep against the wolves, and tonight the sheep won."  It was a Bible reference, and I like it, but I wonder if some of the money men and powers-that-be will be swayed to the side of the sheep.

If anything, the primary shows a great deal more organization and support for TEA Party candidates in the county.  Now it will be interesting to see if the momentum will result in drawing more people into the fold.

I think there are plenty of wolves in the sheep pen, but with a larger swell of small-governement conservatives across the state (and it looks like nationwide) it could be a really positive election cycle.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday Night Madness - Primary edition: Mud, Sweat and Tears

• Politics on a local level should even out after tomorrow, even if we end up with a few runoff elections.  All of the politicians with whom I have spoken are certainly glad the primary season is almost over.  It has been ugly, and I've only seen bits and pieces of it.

• I was very glad to see inForney.com tackling the latest hit piece in the Kaufman County Precinct 2 commissioner race.

That mailer is wrong on so many levels, it is hard to find a place to start.  I have heard – from people I trust – that Skeet Phillips is a really good guy. And maybe he really didn't have any idea this what this was going to turn into.  But a smart candidate would have jumped on the opportunity to say that isn't how he operates and turned it into another positive for himself.  Instead, Phillips seems to have just left it hanging in the air.

Plausible deniability may work in national politics, but I'm not sure about local politics. When you have a last minute bomb like that dropped in a relatively low-budget county race, it is hard to convince anyone that an unknown party came up with it and paid for it.  Mailers aren't cheap.

Even worse, given the opportunity to comment, it looks like Phillips just implicated himself in the matter.  In the inForney.com story, he is quoted as saying “I gave her the name of somebody they could get ahold of and they would help her ... and that's where it went from there. I never saw it again, I never touched it again, I never talked to them, I never approved a single thing, I never even saw it, and that was it."

Which implies that when someone came to Phillips with the salacious story, he sent them along to his campaign folks then conveniently walked away.

That leaves the bottom line question of who paid for the mailer.  It all leads back to the same politics-as-usual folks who make a living running these campaigns.  And until politicians stop thinking that is their ticket to victory, it will continue.  Which is partly our fault for falling for it.

• I am not going to make predictions, but I will tell you what I'd like to see happen in a few Kaufman County races.  (Don't get me started on SE Dallas county races….)

Like everywhere else in the country, this year is going to be the TEA Party vs The Establishment part II or III or IV.  I really like having an organized group trying to slow the constant liberal drift on the Republican side.  It would just be good if that group managed it without driving people away.  Over the last few years, especially after I started working in Terrell, I was surprised at how many people said that they like the main TEA Party objectives but could not join in with the Kaufman County group.  That needs to change and quickly.  And I'm not sure if it changes faster by winning or losing.

I would like for my friend Stuart Spitzer to win tomorrow, and over time use the victory to lead the local party back to some form of unity of cause, even with a diversity of opinions and personalities.  A lot of that depends on the Kaufman County Republican Chairman race, which is also interesting given Jody Dellar's long history here and Jimmy Weaver's TEA Party backing.

I'm thinking runoff election in the 86th District Court race.  With four candidates though, it goes to show you that even with a potential lucrative career in private law practice, there is still a great appeal to a steady salary.

Same goes for the Precinct 1 JP race, with two lawyers in that race.  I would like to see Tony Torres do well and bring some attention to the Republican Party among the county's growing Hispanic community.  There are a lot of strong potential conservative candidates out there that should be welcomed, not simply lost in the immigration debate.

OK folks, go out and vote for leaders with high moral character.  In the end, the county jobs are something that anyone could potentially learn to do.  But people of good character will serve us the best  at all levels, especially when you get to the legislative efforts which are incredibly hard to turn back.

Happy election day!