Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Little Advice, for the Quarantine Cook

The three biggest "secrets" to restaurant foods... what make them better than most peoples home cooking... are pretty simple:

1. Use more flavorful fats... Butter, bacon grease, olive oil, peanut oil, coconut oil, whatever flavors complement what you're cooking. Home cooks rarely use enough, and often use bland plain vegetable oil, or even worse, margarine.

2. Use more flavorful liquids... Unless you're boiling pasta, or plain white rice (and even then, always salt the water), never use plain water when you can use wine, or beer, or broth, or stock, or lemon juice, or orange juice, or at least salted and/or acidulated water (water with acid added to it), or of course milk... and  never use milk when you can use half and half, or cream.

3. Use more salt and other seasoning than you think you should... and season BEFORE your food hits the pan, then check the seasoning while cooking and season again, then check again before serving and adjust a final time. 

Home cooks mostly badly undersalt and under season their home cooked food (as opposed to fast food and most processed foods, which have a ton of sodium). And don't forget general flavor boosters like finely minced fresh garlic or shallots cooked out in the fat, toasting your spices in the fats; using chicken or beef broth base powder, or powdered instant coffee or espresso as a flavor enhancer; and adding umami boosters like soy sauce, hot sauce(especially fermented pepper based like Frank's Red Hot), Worcestershire sauce, real naturally fermented vinegar, aged hard cheeses, MSG, etc... 

Oh and one final thing... a technique issue rather than a secret ingredient... 

Most home cooks don't use enough heat... they're afraid of burning things, and don't use enough fat, so they cook in dry cold pans, which cook slowly and unevenly. Instead of searing or sauteeing, they end up steaming or braising or par-boiling their proteins, making them dry, tough and flavorless. 

Proteins (except maybe foie gras and some delicate seafoods) should ALWAYS go into a well fatted, and ripping hot pan... even if you then turn it down just after, adding proteins to the pan will suddenly drop the temperature, and you will have a hell of a hard time to get a good sear or proper sautee going. 

If you need to, you can turn the pan down once the temp drops, and the first bits of water evaporate off.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Strength, Recovery, and Gratitude

This started out as a light and fun post in my head... but as I started writing... it got kinda long, and serious... and then it got very long and very personal and very serious... but I have to get this out, and y'all are my friends and the people I love, and who love me.. so... if you're interested... here it is... 

...I warned you...

Now that I'm back on a full dose of thyroid meds... after three months of taking the minimum dose to keep me from going myxedemic, before I was able to get a new prescription... and given the recovery I've made over the last 18 months... I've been feeling like it was time to start working out again.

I still need to get back on my testosterone, modafanil and adderall, to be able to really be OK mentally and physically... and particularly the testosterone to really build any muscle back up very much for that matter (I need to raise the money to get a local doctor, and blood work, and then pay for the scrips)... but I'm recovered enough that I feel like I can get started back again at least. 

I don't have a functioning vehicle (I have a motorcycle, but it needs a new clutch and I don't have the cash for it) and I can't walk more than 50 yards, so I can't get to a gym regularly. We don't have any free weights here, and I don't have the money to get any... 

...But...

...We DO have a Bowflex Ultimate 2, with all the attachments, that has just been sitting, broken down for a few years and gathering dust... 

Now, I would much rather have free weights... and eventually I will again...  But a bowflex is actually great for circuit training, and honestly, that's what I need to be doing right now. Light weights, high reps, get into the aerobic cardio heart rate zone, and not strain my back too badly while I rebuild my supporting musculature.

So, my project for the day, is to clean up and get this machine working again, and then do my first real workout that wasn't physical therapy, since 2012 when I had my first round of cancer surgery and radiation. 

Christ... It really is almost 8 years since I've been able to work out at all... I have a hard time with that honestly... 

I was still recovering from the first round of cancer and radiation... and moving across the country FIVE times in three years... from 2012 until 2015. Then we found the next round of cancer in late 2015,  and then the next round after that and my spinal injury in late 2016...  and I was literally bedridden from late 2015 to late 2018... and now its 18 months of recovery from my last round of cancer surgery...

...and finally, I can start working out again....

I don't really have the words to describe what that means to me. 

I started in Jui-Jitsu when I was five, wrestling when I was 12, football and kenjutsu, and serious weight lifting when I was 13. Then power lifting when I was 14, and finally the SCA, and fencing (I fenced saber in college) and what they now call HEMA (whacking each other with medieval through rennaisance swords) when I was 16. 

From age 13 to age 30 I worked out almost every day... I was a serious competitive powerlifter, a football player, an airman and officer, a fencer and swordsman, a wrestler and juijiteiro... and I was strong, always... Even after I busted my knees up bad, other than running, I could always make my body do what I needed it to do, always lift that weight, always move that thing that nobody else could move, always carry that pack that was too heavy for everyone else... 

Then I started getting sick... And gaining weight... In less than 3 years, I gained over 200 pounds... But still, from  30 to 35 I worked out whenever I wasn't too sick... Which was less and less as I got worse and worse... and now after 8 years of being too damn sick, too broken down, to crippled up, to even work out at all...

... I can finally start again... 

I'm sorry that I'm rambling and repeating myself...It's just... Kind of a very big deal for me.

Up until my spinal injury... Being the strongest guy... or at least one of them... in almost any room, was a big part of my identity, and my sense of self. Not in a meathead ass kind of way... just... Knowing that whatever it was, I could handle it...  

Even when I was sick I was still the guy who hauled a 350 pound couch onto my back and took it down two flights of stairs and out to the truck.. I was still the guy who picked a 480lb lathe off the truck lift gate, and hauled it into my shop, when the truck driver  couldn't get close enough to the concrete slab, and would have had to unload it into the gravel. I was still the guy who was stupid enough to take a situps challenge, and do 200 situps in less than ten minutes  just to prove I still could, when somebody assumed I was just some fatass, and I just NEEDED to prove them wrong...

Immature? Petty? Stupid? Yeah,maybe a little... But you have to understand just how much being seriously chronically ill strips away the things that make you feel like yourself. And how hard you feel like you have to hold on to them. How not being able to walk without a walker for two years breaks down your self image. How not being able to get to the damn bathroom and having to use a commode for 18 months strips away so much of what you thought you were... How not even being able to get put of bed, and  being comoletely dependent on others for... everything... How that breaks you down.

...Through it all, I have always kept in my head and my heart... that core of me... the man who absolutely cannot be defeated... the man who has fought, and been broken down and damn near destroyed... but never defeated. The man who was too exhausted to keep fighting, but still SURVIVED when I couldnt fight anymore... The man who lived, when it was all I could do to live... when dying was so damn easy, and living was impossibly hard... 

When my body was useless and dying, and I couldn't even complete the basic tasks of keeping myself alive without help...

... At my core, I always held that... I don't know what to call it... hope, knowledge, conviction... that WILL... that CERTAINTY... That eventually, I would get back to being ME again. I would be able to think clearly again. That I would be able to write again. That I would be able to work again...  and that eventually  I would be STRONG again...

Over the last 18 months... since leaving a literally toxic environment that was killing me, and keeping me from recovering... I have lost over 100 pounds (I still have another 100 plus pounds to lose, but I've done pretty damn good so far). I have recovered more of the muscle tissue destroyed by my spinal injury and the resulting rhabdomyolysis and atrophy from almost three years of being bedridden, than my doctors and I thought possible. I have recovered enough muscle tone, and enough of my supporting musculature, that I can walk 50 yards without a walker or a cane on a good day (on a bad day I can't really walk at all, but there are more good days than bad now) which my doctors were dead certain would never happen again... 

They told me that I would probably never walk more than a few feet without assistance  again. They told me I would never be able to work out or lift heavy again. They told me I would never be STRONG again... Not like I was anyway...

A few days ago, I did 50 crunches... just to see if I could
It HURT... but I could do it. I could barely move the next day... But I still did it. 

I have recovered more than those who didn't really believe in me... even those who I thought loved me and supported me... ever thought I would.

I have recovered more than even I thought I ever would, or could... 

... And today... I'm going to use my strength again, and start working to build it back up again... I'm going to be STRONG again... I'm going to be ME again. 

And there is no way I can find the words to say what that means to me. 

... But I'm glad I tried.. because my friends, and the people who love me and care about me and support me... Maybe they need to hear this, as much as I need to say it.

Thank you.

Thank you all for keeping me alive, and keeping me going, and keeping me fighting through all of this... For giving me something to fight for when everything was ripped away from me... when those closest and most important to me abandoned me... when would have been expected to give up, to stop fighting...  you all kept me going. 

Thank you...

Time to get to work.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

15 year Blogiversary

Today is the 15th anniversary of my founding of this blog, with this post:

https://anarchangel.blogspot.com/2005/02/first-post.html

First Post!!!!!

Ok folks, people have been telling me to write my own blog for two years now, so finally, here it is.

Yeah I said I'd get around to it before, but I'm lazy, what can I say.

The initial content is mostly going to be stuff I've written for other peoples blogs, and fora etc...

Suggestions, praise, worship, and deification are all welcome.


In that same day, I dumped a lot of content in, including the first two of my Recipes for Real Men, and my first AR-15 post "The Myth of AR Unreliability"... still one of my top 100 most read posts. 

https://anarchangel.blogspot.com/2005/02/recipes-for-real-men-volume-1.html

Recipes for REAL men, Volume 1

Men who dont care about heart attacks, or heartburn.

Men who dont mind their arteries hardening.

More Beef than Stew

https://anarchangel.blogspot.com/2005/02/myth-of-ar-unreliability_14.html

The Myth of AR Unreliability

Ok guys, its time to smack down the bullshit here.

If an AR is properly maintained, and properly made in the first place, it is completely reliable. I have owned, been issued, and have used in harsh conditions, several AR's (including M4 variants); and I'm on my second M14. My AR's have been, without exception, more reliable than my M14's, more reliable than my G3, and in general more reliable than any other semi auto rifle I've owned.

15 years...

That's like a billion in internet years... And unfortunately life has been pretty screwed up most of the last ten, with cancer, family troubles... life troubles in general... I've only managed a few posts a year the last couple years. Ive mostly moved over to Facebook, because the conversation has mostly stopped happening on blogs over those years... But regardless, I'm still here... and still occaisonally writing long from blog posts here. 

I've written literally million of words, across thousands of posts. I've made thousands of great acquaintances, hundreds of friends, and a few dozen close friends... for which I am an incredibly lucky man.

I acquired an instant family... and nearly as quickly lost it 13 years later. 

I came within weeks of dying a dozen times, days of dying a half dozen, hours of dying at least four time... and I actually did die once, thankfully for less than a full minute.

Well... Thank y'all for being here, for reading and listening, and helping, and contributing, and inspiring, and every other damn thing.

...And please, always remember why I do this... 

...Callahans Law...

Shared Pain is Lessened; Shared Joy Increased - Thus do we refute entropy!

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Callahan's Law

Callahan's Crosstime Saloon", the first collected volume of Spider Robinsons Callahan's stories... 

...My absolute favorite series of stories and novels; which, in all honesty and seriousness, and without any hyperbole at all, I fully credit with saving my sanity, and my soul; more than a couple times... 

...Was actually published on the exact day of my birth.

Thank God for that... because it, and the other two collected volumes of stories in the series, "Time Travellers Strictly Cash"  and "Callahan's Secret" (all three are now collected in a single volume "The Callahan Chronicles"), were all in paperback a dozen someodd years later, the first time I really needed them. 

... There have been many other times I have needed them since... 

And the six more novels to follow, between 1989 and 2003, which were also there when I needed them... As was Spider himself once... though only by email, no less a help for it. 

I haven't had the pleasure of meeting him in person, but my friends who have, and particularly those...more than a couple... who also call him friend; have told me he's just what I would expect him to be, from my experience with him, and his writing, and his music. He is a man who must, by nature, because of his intellect, his empathy, his sincerity, his force of will, his sheer heart... reveal himself in all he does. 

I will say without a shadow of a doubt... I would not be alive, or remotely sane today, if it weren't for Spider Robinson, and Callahans... Or if by some awful curse or terrible miracle I was, I would be in prison... or very much worse. 

You see.. Callahans law states: 

"Just as there are Laws of Conservation of Matter and Energy, so there are in fact Laws of Conservation of Pain and Joy. Neither can ever be created or destroyed. But one can be converted into the other. Shared pain is lessened;  shared joy is increased - thus do we refute entropy"

If you think you might need Callahans too... I'm happy to help you out as I can. For that matter, theres at least a few thousand people just like me, all around the world, who also know they wouldn't be here, or sane, without Callahans... and without exception, they will help anyone who needs it, if they can.

Shared pain is lessened; shared joy is increased - Thus do we refute entropy.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Institutions, Transformations, and Insurrections

When you believe that your opposition, is in fact your mortal enemy, is fundamentally evil, and will stop or destroy everything you want and believe to be right... Well, then you can justify absolutely anything to yourself, in obstructing, resisting, opposing, damaging, and trying to remove or destroy that opposition. 

We have been in an escalating cycle of this for decades... Since LBJ at least... Maybe even since FDR... and we are at the point now, where the left believe that literally anything is justifiable, in order to give themselves the power to do what they believe is right... Including literally beating people in the streets. 

This was the goal of the critical school, and Gramsci, and the comintern operations against the capitalist west for the last 100 years... and it has succeeded in creating a completely unhinged left, and the failure and destruction of societal norms and institutions... Most of which the left have been gaining increasing control over for decades, and they have had essentially complete control over many of them since the late 90s. 

This is the point at which the criticalists and Gramscians, believed that they could induce the total collapse of the western capitalist order, and that the people would inevitably flock to socialism... They literally believed it was a scientific and historical inevitability, that socialism was functionally the next stage in the "perfection" of man and society. 

Except that's not happening... leaving aside a relatively small minority of zealots and idiots... Because most peoples lives are actually pretty good, and getting better not worse... Though if you listen to Democrats and the media we live in hell manifest on earth... Unless they're in charge of course.

Instead what is happening, is the majority of people are disconnecting from the institutions around them, and just trying to live their lives, which leaves the institutions to the zealots and the deluded... Until those zealots impinge on the peoples lives in ways they find intolerable, at which point they fight back... witness Virginia... 

This is not a good or stable state to be in... But it's also not the tinderbox of near civil war many believe it to be. It could progress to that, but only if either things actually get to be as bad as the zealots say it is, or those now corrupted and failed institutions attempt to impinge too far on normal peoples lives in ways they will not tolerate, and will violently fight back.... At which point, there should be a big collective gasp for air, and realization that something is seriously wrong and has to change.

... That's the point where we either get a mass reform movement of our institutions, or we get a civil war... which itself is such a mass reform movement, resorting to violence because the people believe it is the only way to effect the necessary change. 

If you look at the policies of the major parties... 

One side wants to completely change everything about this countries culture, institutions, and economy, because they believe the way things are is so bad and wrong that it must be changed completely... and they will precipitate that literally apocalyptic event (look up what the word apocalypse actually means) rather quickly if they can... because their zealots believe they will win (they won't, but zealots never believe they won't win), and then get to rebuild the nation in their chosen image... 

...The other side... not so much...