Falafel King flops

Food: D
Service: D/F See comments below
Price: Average
Atmosphere: Styrofoam Plates and Plastic Utensils. Need I say more.
Specific complaints:
Pita bread: Crumbly and served at room temperature
Hummus: No garlic or lemon added.
Falafel: #5 falafel balls came with the platter. While tasty, they were cooked a little too long.
Sides: Lettuce and chopped tomatoes do not a topping make
Tofu Salad was bland and boring
Eggplant Side dish was bland and boring
Are we seeing a trend yet?
Sesame Tahini: Straight out of the jar
Hot Sauce: More like wimpy sauce. Not only wasn't it hot,ZERO HEAT, there was little flavor to it.
The ONLY thing good were the 60 cent 2 inch stuffed grape leaves which are the same ones you get straight out of a can.

Out on errands today my husband and I were looking for a new place to eat so we tried Falafel King on Baxter Street in Athens, GA. We were more than disappointed. It was bland, even boring. But the kicker was the Seinfeldesque incident in the parking lot. Having had no garlic, no lemon, and bland hot sauce, we were not pleased when we left. The owner called out asking what we thought. My normally non confrontational husband said one word, "BORING!". It was one word too much. The owner followed him out into the parking lot and confronted him. "I"m 65 years old...I've been cooking for years... number of restaurants..." Then he asked, "Where have you had better falafel?" My husband answered honestly. "Falafel King in LA, California." The owner's reply was swift. "I taught those guys..." blah, blah, blah -Just like the food, blah. I never thought you could get indigestion from boring food, guess it takes a Seinfeld moment for it to kick in. Oh and if you wonder where I've had better falafel, three miles down the road at The Grit. Their Mid-E Platter with Falafel, tabouli salad with lemon tahini dressing, and garlic hummus, pita and fresh veggies is much tastier and there's more for the money too, all served on china with silverware to boot.

NPR continues to disappoint

NPR has fired Juan Williams for the following exchange on Fox News:

"Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot," Williams said. "You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."
He continued, "Now, I remember also that, when the Times Square bomber was at court, I think this was just last week, he said the war with Muslims -- America's war -- is just beginning. The first drop of blood. I don't think there's any way to get away from these facts.
"But I think there are people who want to somehow remind us all -- as President Bush did after 9/11 -- it's not a war against Islam."

To begin, I am a liberal. I voted for Hillary, twice- in the primary and as a write in candidate in the general election. Obama was neither qualified nor liberal enough for me. I am for abortion rights, first amendment rights, against prayer in schools, pro evolution, pro womens rights, for government health care- you get the point. Hell, I admire the Scandinavian model. Tax me 40% for all the benefits of the socialist system. I'm liberal. So take it from me, a liberal, firing Juan Williams is BULLSHIT.

There is a liberal faction that really pisses me off. It is the faction that idealizes Venezuela's Chavez. It is the faction that demonizes Mark Twain's writing for the use of the word nigger. It is the faction that says blacks cannot by definition of being a minority be racist. It is the faction that still idealizes Castro's Cuban dream. It is the faction that says it's okay to say nigga' if you are black. It is the faction that says welfare should be for all, including those who flat out refuse to work and reproduce without restriction.

So when Juan Williams comes on air with what I consider common sense liberal views, it is a relief from those extreme liberals I often hear on NPR lauding bullshit artists rapping their inner angst against about the white man holding them down. Or the pablum they endorse everytime NPR gives air time to some dumb Bubba' praising Jesus and the Lawd for an event's outcome, instead of reporting the Facts, not superstitious mumbo jumbo. So when NPR says Williams was showing personal bias, I say BULLSHIT. What kind of reporter, except one biased towards religious superstition, would allow such crap as "God's hand", etc into a story. When NPR reports on "news" from the Vatican, how can that possibly not be biased?

When Juan Williams says the he is wary of those donning Muslim garb, how is that biased, especially when you take the statement IN CONTEXT. Look what happened to USDA's Shirley Sherrod whose comments were taken out of context and sounded WAY WORSE! His comments are mild. His comments are reflective of a majority of the American people. In the same way the "God saved me from INSERT DISASTER" comments aired as parts of "factual" stories, how is what he said any less credible? Juan did little to invoke this sort of wrath from the liberal political correctness pundits on high. Where's the justification?

Juan Williams' reporting is part of what made NPR have a more balanced approach than, say, Fox news. Williams has called playing the race card for what it is, bullshit. He has acknowledged the faults within the subgroup he identifies with, black men: He has pushed for embracing education, shaking off the "victim-hood mentality" and promoting self responsibility. He is the kind of reporter than when the tables are turned would and has acknowledged that this sentiment that he feels about Muslims is similar to what people think about young black men attired in a hip hop fashion, pants falling down, gold teeth ornaments, rap music blasting. Even Juan would admit to locking the car doors when approaching a street corner in "the wrong neighborhood".

Juan Williams has turned an eye to the inner feelings and fears of America, honestly. He has done it while talking down the fear mongers among his Fox peers. He has acknowledged the dual standards in racial groups and has called for self responsibility. He has stood by reminding us of the past and our errors. Without excuses or whitewash he has also criticized the victim-hood mentality self imposed upon blacks and asserted by white liberal pundits.

Juan Williams is a man that balanced the issues by presenting both sides, including self reflection, infusing a personal aspect. This is not new to NPR and its reporters. When we heard Jason Bovian choke back tears in his Haiti reports, we felt the pain of a child abandoned. When Scott Simon offers personal anecdotes of a Chicago game he saw or a time he felt fear in the Balkans, we like him all the more. When Simon criticizes the China one child policy that lead him to adopt his daughters, we don't damn him. Barbara Bradley Hagerty's reports on religion which reflect her personal beliefs in an unknowable, unseen, unprovable Deity are not only given airtime, they are made into lengthy radio series. How can NPR fire Williams for the personal feelings allowed by so many others?

So why then, when Juan Williams made this statement, did NPR fire him? I can only think it comes from an extreme liberal bias that roots out anything anyone says that differs from their brand of political correctness. These are the same types that don't read Mark Twain on air because the word nigger might be said, but interviews rappers whose music use the words, bitches, hoes, and nigga'. These are the same group who, when you point out that 1 in 4 black men age 18-24 are in prison, have been in prison or are awaiting trial in the US, call you a racist for stating facts. These are the ones who laud the First Amendment ideals, cover ACLU lawsuits, and with the other hand, weed out online criticisms and fire their reporters. They are hypocrites.

But then, as Williams also pointed out, where he said it, on Fox "news", may have factored in to their decision. It's okay for President Obama to have befriended the former members of The Weathermen, but it's not okay for Juan to show up on Fox? Watch out Mara Liasson, you're next!! Why can't NPR see the balancing voice of reason provided by Williams, Liasson and others on networks such as Fox? Still NPR lets their own people come on air and shill their latest works of fact or fiction and -Forbid!- express their personal opinions and reflections in the process!

This is a double standard. This is hypocrisy. This is BULLSHIT!

Rajmah :Indian Spiced Red Kidney Beans

Once again it seems overstocked sale items have led to a new experiment. This time it's Rajmah (also spelled Rajma), Indian spiced red kidney beans. It was my first time trying to make this dish, As always, I went online for ideas, found similarities and some differences in ingredients, and had to go looking for some substitution ideas. For example, star anise has a similar flavor to fennel. Not having the anise, I opted for fennel. Others changes were off the top of my head. After eating Indian food for quite a few years, I've learned which spices compliment each other. Not to mention, the old fashioned method of taste as you go, which always helps.

RAJMAH : Indian Spiced Red Kidney Beans

Using 3 TBSP margarine
Saute lightly
2 TSP garlic paste
2 TSP ginger paste
2 bay leaves
1 TSP fennel seed

Add
1 TBSP oil
1/2 sweet onion, minced

Saute until the onions are done.

Add
1QTY 15-16 oz can of diced tomatoes, liquid included
1QTY 2inch cinnamon stick
1 chili pepper, whole

Cook about 5 minutes

Then add
2 cups water
2 cans of red kidney beans, about 32 oz total, rinsed and drained
2 TSP cumin powder
1 TSP ground coriander
1 TSP garam masala
1 TSP sugar
1/2 TSP spearmint, crushed and dry
2 TBSP dried cilantro

Set the heat to medium low and allow to cook down until a thick sauce forms. It took about 30 minutes simmering and the flavors mixed beautifully.

Remove the 2 bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Serve the chili pepper to the heat lover in your family.


UPDATE: This recipe tastes even better the next day. Seems a night in the frig allowed the flavors to mix a little longer.

Curried Chana Dal Soup

I wanted to make a different dal than my usual thick version. Inspired by a watery light dal at Udipi Cafe, delicate in flavor, I researched numerous recipes. Not finding the thin variety, I selected a few staple spices and started experimenting with two types of beans I had on hand. The bean I needed to use primarily was a split red dal that I have had disappointing results from previously. Determined to make use of a bean that loses its color and cooks down to nothing, I decided that I would use it with the tried and true chana dal I love. Because the split red dal cooks so quickly, I decided to add it after the chana had cooked down. The red dal served to thicken the soup and when it cooked through, it gave the soup an unexpected creaminess. While the dal I ended up with wasn't what I went looking for, the dal turned out creamy, mild, and with a pleasing scent. It is a nice change from the thick spinach dal I usually make. I'll be glad to add this to my rotation.

The difference between the red split dal and the chana dal is not only apparent in color, but also in thickness.


CURRIED CHANA DAL SOUP

Cooking time: 2 hours

Water : add water throughout as you see fit

Boil 1 cup Chana Dal 1 hour over medium heat

Add 1 cup Red Split Dal. Cook additional 20 minutes.
The red dal will break down and begin to thicken the soup. More frequent stirring is required from this point forward.

Add
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 TBSP garlic paste
1/2 TBSP ginger paste
20 curry leaves **optional
Cook additional 20 minutes over medium heat.

At this point carefully consider the water you add because it won't cook down much further. Based on how thick, thin or creamy you want the final product, remember that once the salt is added it's hard to avoid sticking if you don't stir or to thicken it much more.

Turn heat to LOW and
Whisk in
1/2 TSP black mustard seed
1/4 TSP ground coriander
1/2 TSP ground cumin
2 TSP turmeric
1 TSP cayenne pepper
2 TSP Madras Hot Curry powder
1 TSP salt
Cook 20 minutes over low heat.

Thought for the day

If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?

Pretty Little Things


My daughter pointed out that in an earlier post, I had forgotten her personal favorite.

Groovy Geo

WUGA 91.7 SUCKS

or why I'm not supporting NPR during this pledge week drive.

WUGA 91.7 has a joke of a tagline. "your OASIS for..." blah,blah,blah

Run out of the University of Georgia, WUGA 91.7 would seem to be a student run station. After all of the "technical difficulties", you would think so, but it's not. Check out their web site and you'll see aging hippies to straights to stiff necks, and few youthful types. With programs that overlap- literally- two shows playing at the same time to Sunday night breaks which see replays instead of the usual BBC early hours news, the station is a poorly run excuse for a station. The "temp-uh-toor" lady and the nasal stylings of the station manager, Steve Bell, are reason enough not to listen. Mind you, someone did get the "temp-uh-toor" woman to pronounce temperature correctly, even if it is a little strained. And Steve Bell tries so hard to hide his hillybilly accent with a constipated nasal twang. But overall, unless a NPR national program is playing, it's not worth a listen.

Even worse are the limited program selections, locally produced pablum, lame afternoon music (harpsicords and organ music, yuck!), and terrible program times for what few decent national shows they carry.

Several years ago a writer to Flagpole Magazine's letters section bemoaned the programming selections on WUGA 91.7. Seems he had been to the Carolinas, a place most of us consider as much a backwater as Alabama, just above Mississippi on the manure pile. In the Carolina mountains while working a job, the writer had found an NPR affiliate that played a variety of shows featuring all kinds of music and good shows at good times. Imagine that! Actually I can. Why? Because this week, once again, during pledge week I am streaming real NPR stations on the web. So what, the news is from Boston or NYC with local temperatures; it's real programming run professionally.

Here at WUGA 91.7 they stopped playing the weekend Jazz After Hours hosted by Jim Wilke and put on a half ass GA Public Broadcasting Jazz show. Don't even get me started on how lame GPB is, especially in the state news department. The UGA news briefs are even worse. Focused on UGA "news", rarely is it of anything important or news worthy. Then when fundraising time rolls around, the shills are the same crap we hear every time, interrupting up to 20 minutes of every news hour.

Then there's the problem with NPR news lately. NPR is going DOWNHILL FAST. There are Steve Innskeep's lame jokes and never ending interruptions of interviewees: "Now you just said CIA; for our listeners, that stands for Central Intelligence Agency." NPR could also learn a thing from BBC about not cutting short your reporters and interviewees. Further, rap music has made an inroads into their music review section as well as their interlude music. Come now, NPR, your listeners used to be college educated, $75,000 average household income, readers of The Economist. Do you think Steve Forbes, et al, really want to hear Rapper Thug Boy's latest rap on life in the gangs? And where the hell is the cutting edge questioning? John Stewart does a better job exposing the bullshit on Comedy Central, a comedic twist on a news show. Since when did our comedians become a better source for news than the pros? Since NPR wussed out? Then there's Louisa Lim's Weports from Kowea. A reporter with a Rhotacism Lisp? WTF? I turn off the news every time the lisping Louisa Lim is on air and run to write editorials like this.

So I won't be giving money to WUGA 91.7 or to NPR this pledge drive until we get Louisa Lim off air and Jim Wilke on air again. WUGA 91.7, can you get Hillbilly Steve Bell off air too? And how about some dumb UGA students? Put them on air so at least you'll have an excuse for the technical difficulties. Besides you might get a better line up and some better music, just not rap please. Off to stream BBC now. It's the top of the hour.

Southwestern Corn Soup

Southwestern Corn Soup
One soup pot
One baking sheet
One food processor

Roast 2 red peppers for 12 minutes.
Oven : 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Slice red bell peppers into 2-3 inch slices so they are almost flat on the pan, skin side down. After 8 minutes, flip over and cook 4 more minutes. Some people like their peppers skinned, I prefer the skins on to save the nutritional value.

Saute
1/2 - 3/4 finely chopped sweet onion
3 tsp garlic

Then add chopped roasted red peppers,
1/4 to 1/2 jalapeno, sliced
and 2 cans of corn kernels, drained.
Add 2 cups of water and cook while you prepare the potatoes.

Peel and dice 3 medium potatoes.
Add potatoes to the pot along with 1 cup of water. The water should just cover the potatoes.
Cook about 10-15 minutes allowing the potatoes to cook but retain their shape.

Add 2 Knorr vegetarian bouillon cubes,
plus 1 tsp ground black pepper and
1/2 can of rotel tomatoes with cilantro and lime.

Cook 5 minutes. Stir well allowing the cubes to break down.

Drain off 2 cups of vegetables.
Place vegetables in a food processor
with 6 oz cream cheese and
1 cup of whole milk.
Puree
Add this back to the soup.
Add 1 tsp salt.
Stir until warm.
Remove from heat and serve.

If you have any tortilla chip crumbs, add these to the soup to give it a little crunch.

Butternut Squash Soup WOW!

For years I have loved the butternut squash soup made by Campbell's but it was too little soup for a family of four and too much money, even on sale. I have an aversion to spending more than a dollar for prepared soup when I know how easy soup is to make. Yet, in all this time, I have never tried to make it myself. Perhaps I feared disappointment knowing it wouldn't be the same, or maybe I knew, as I have since discovered it is a little more time consuming than I prefer. But having succeeded, it is worth the time.

So what takes so much time? Prep work. I prefer doing one thing while something else is brewing, baking, or rising in the background. This soup requires advance planning or other projects to occupy your time while the squash bakes. If you think you can bake the squash while making the soup base you're wrong. Either the potatoes in the base will turn to starch waiting for the squash to cool or you'll burn your hands scraping the squash from the skin. I suffered the later. I'm glad I have soup to comfort me!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

Step 1
Oven 350 degrees
Slice a medium butternut squash longways.
Remove seeds.
Place flat side down in a casserole pan with 1 inch of water.
Bake 35-45 minutes. It is done when a fork can easily pierce the skin and the underside gives when pressed.
Remove from the pan and LET IT COOL.
Scoop the insides out with a spoon leaving the skin behind.
Set aside.

Step 2
One soup pan

Saute 1/2 a sweet onion- minced- in margarine.
Add 1 stalk of celery with leaves, finely chopped.
Then add 1 medium carrot- peeled and chopped
along with 1 cup of water.

Next,
Peel and cube 4 medium potatoes
Yes, regular brown Idaho potatoes work fine. You don't need the floury reds or yellows.
Add diced potatoes and 2 cups of water.
You want the water to just cover the potatoes. Too much water in this recipe will mean a watery, not creamy soup. It'll be hard to resist adding water after the next step because the smell will be so concentrated, but don't do it.
After the potatoes have cooked but still retain their shape,
add 2 Knorr Vegetarian Bouillon cubes.
The smell will be strong but it's important to not add any liquid. You will get all the liquid you need from the squash.
Cook just long enough to dissolve the cubes.
Add the chunks of butternut squash, stir well.

Step 3
The food processor

I have a larger food processor otherwise you'll have to work with what you have and recombine everything in the soup pot later.
Pour the soup into the food processor with the blade in place. Puree everything.
Add 1 TSP salt
and 1 TSP ground pepper
and 2 TBSP of cream cheese
Puree until well blended.

Serve and enjoy.
If you reheat this, careful not to scald it now that the cream cheese has been added.

UPDATE:
I made this soup again recently and took time to measure the amount of butternut squash. A medium squash yielded a little over 4 1/2 cups. I also kept the squash in the oven longer and the skin began to brown all over. When cool, the skin peeled off easily, so little was lost.

Without the damned socialist fire departments....


As we are forced to listen the "socialist" labeling of Obama, et al, let's not forget that the majority of firefighting departments in the US are technically "socialist" having received public tax monies. Even our small county gives money to the volunteer fire departments. However, in one small Tennessee county, the fire department's action represents what would happen if we toss off the "socialist" mantle. See story below

This reminds me of the story of Crassus, the Roman politician, and the etymological root of the word crass. From the wikipedia article: Most notorious was his (Crassus) acquisition of burning houses: when Crassus received word that a house was on fire, he would arrive and purchase the doomed property along with surrounding buildings for a modest sum, and then employ his army of 500 clients to put the fire out before much damage had been done. Crassus' clients employed the Roman method of firefighting—destroying the burning building to curtail the spread of the flames.

Another point of interest lay in whether the firefighters received any public funds. If so, as a taxpayer, the home owner had a right to receive services. If that is the case, it sounds as if he has grounds for a lawsuit for denial of services.

I was reminded of an incident several years ago when some friends called to say a leaf and limb fire had gotten out of hand and their woods were on fire. Despite the fact the volunteer fire departments and forest service was on the scene, I grabbed some garden hose, hopped in my car and spent the morning helping with my hose.

In Tennessee I have to ask, "Where were the neighbors?" But more importantly, where was the "neighborliness" in the firefighters themselves, the man's own neighbors? How far will we go embracing this anti-socialist agenda that would leave us in a society without basic social services? Do we want this dog eat dog world the tea partiers envision?

Firefighters watch as home burns to the ground
Originally printed at http://www.wpsdlocal6.com/news/local/Firefighters-watch-as-home-burns-to-the-ground-104052668.html

By Reporter - Jason Hibbs
By Photojournalist - Mark Owen
September 30, 2010
OBION COUNTY, Tenn. - Imagine your home catches fire but the local fire department won't respond, then watches it burn. That's exactly what happened to a local family tonight.

A local neighborhood is furious after firefighters watched as an Obion County, Tennessee, home burned to the ground.

The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn't do anything to stop his house from burning.

Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay.

The mayor said if homeowners don't pay, they're out of luck.

This fire went on for hours because garden hoses just wouldn't put it out. It wasn't until that fire spread to a neighbor's property, that anyone would respond.

Turns out, the neighbor had paid the fee.

"I thought they'd come out and put it out, even if you hadn't paid your $75, but I was wrong," said Gene Cranick.

Because of that, not much is left of Cranick's house.

They called 911 several times, and initially the South Fulton Fire Department would not come.

The Cranicks told 9-1-1 they would pay firefighters, whatever the cost, to stop the fire before it spread to their house.

"When I called I told them that. My grandson had already called there and he thought that when I got here I could get something done, I couldn't," Paulette Cranick.

It was only when a neighbor's field caught fire, a neighbor who had paid the county fire service fee, that the department responded. Gene Cranick asked the fire chief to make an exception and save his home, the chief wouldn't.

We asked him why.

He wouldn't talk to us and called police to have us escorted off the property. Police never came but firefighters quickly left the scene. Meanwhile, the Cranick home continued to burn.

We asked the mayor of South Fulton if the chief could have made an exception.

"Anybody that's not in the city of South Fulton, it's a service we offer, either they accept it or they don't," Mayor David Crocker said.

Friends and neighbors said it's a cruel and dangerous city policy but the Cranicks don't blame the firefighters themselves. They blame the people in charge.

"They're doing their job," Paulette Cranick said of the firefighters. "They're doing what they are told to do. It's not their fault."

To give you an idea of just how intense the feelings got in this situation, soon after the fire department returned to the station, the Obion County Sheriff's Department said someone went there and assaulted one of the firefighters.