Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chocolate Chicken

My son, like all 2-year-olds, is a carb fiend. If there's bread (even matzah) near the table, he will ignore everything else.

His meals lately have been toast with jam, challah dipped in lentil soup, and cheesy toast.

In an effort to expand his nutrients beyond sugar and fat, as well as to play in the kitchen a little bit, I made a sort of pseudo-chicken mole. We told him it was chocolate chicken. He ate a lot.

1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
spice mixture (see below)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
splash of riesling
1 small can stewed tomatoes
1 small (4 oz) can green chiles
2 small pieces good dark chocolate
juice of 1/2 lime
handful raisins

Spice Mixture
Mix a couple shakes of each of the following until you've got about 2 Tablespoons in a small bowl:
  • Ground cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Ginger
  • Cloves
  • Coriander
  • Oregano
(You can add more of any of these, if you want that flavor to stand out more. I think I went lighter on the cloves and coriander than the other spices, and heavier on oregano, cumin, and cinnamon.)

Grind up a 1-inch piece each of dried ancho and dried smoked jalapeno peppers (seeds and membranes removed) in a coffee grinder, add to spice mixture. (If you want it spicy, add more of this, or some cayenne, or leave in the membranes or seeds. Ours came out only very gently warm.)

Sprinkle salt and spice mixture over chicken, turning to coat.

Heat olive oil over medium to medium-high heat in a wide pot for a couple minutes. Dredge some of the chicken pieces in flour, and brown them in the oil. Remove cooked chicken and repeat until all the chicken pieces have been cooked, adding oil as necessary to keep from burning. (I gave up on dredging the last few pieces and just threw them in because I was getting impatient.)

Add a little water and the onions, cook a couple minutes, stirring frequently, using juices from the onions to loosen the bits of chicken stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the garlic, cook another minute or two, then deglaze with the riesling.

Return chicken to pot, add a little water and the tomatoes and chiles.

Add the chocolate and stir. (You can add more if you want, I didn't want to over-caffeinate the child.) At this point it will start to get thick and REALLY smell good.

Add a little more water as necessary and the lime juice - I made mine a sort of thick stew consistency, but you can thin it out as you like. Throw in the handful of raisins. Cook for a few more minutes.

The whole thing took about 1/2 hour to make.

Serve warm with crusty bread or over seasoned rice. We followed ours with a dessert of homemade warm rice pudding and caramelized pineapple. Yum.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Trashy melodrama

I admit it, I stayed up late last night watching the ridiculous Hallmark special "Loving Leah." It's premise is sketchy, its understanding of Judaism laughable, its plot silly - but it was a bit like a trainwreck - I couldn't look away.

To be truly fair, the main actors mostly did a good job. The actors portraying anyone from the frum world were truly, truly horrible, though. It was like a Purim spiel where the actors don't realize they're being parodies...

And the message? Hmm, well, true love overcoming all sorts of obstacles was in there, and apparently letting your daughter move to DC and go to college also means she'll start attending a Reform shul, take off her wig, wear short skirts, go swimming and - horror of horrors - it might lead to mixed dancing!

The funniest in-joke: When Leah finally gets up her nerve to go wander around the city on her own with a map, she's wearing the frum equivalent of an "uppity women unite" shirt - a long denim skirt.

Recommendation - use it as a drinking game. Anytime you see a Jewish stereotype, drink. anytime you see a secular Jew stereotype, drink. Any time you see a frum stereotype, drink.

You should be nice and numb within about 5 minutes. :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Best Post-Inaugural story

honor goes to Huffington Post's Jason Linkins, with Bush's Depressing Goodbye Party.

Apparently all the good locations were taken, so the outgoing Bush staffers had their party in an UNHEATED ballroom, wondering what the heck to do with themselves now that they were all out of work.

As Linkins put it:

"Look, people, if you are out the next two days, and you see these mopes walking all despondent down the street, for God's sake, take them out a plate of canapes or something and call it national service. "

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

If it's not anti-semitism...

Why aren't THESE the kinds of headlines so-called "peace protestors" are protesting?

Chinese police arrest biker gang selling children

Zimbabwe's Zanu PF gives two-year-old "dissident" in solitary confinement, beatings

Arab nations, China and Russia attempt to help Sudan's president Al-Bashir remain in power, escape war-crimes trials, despite ongoing genocide in Darfur

Really, people?

Israel defending itself after putting up with almost 7,000 attacks, even when trying their hardest to avoid civilian casualties, is more upsetting than THESE stories?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Defending the indefensible

Over at Huffington post, Lisa Gans is making light of Israel's suffering because they are not the perceived underdog. Her text, below:

"It is undoubtedly true that Hamas is a terrorist organization, and that it has been increasing the number of rockets it has been launching at southern Israel in recent months. However, Hamas is also democratically elected , and Israel is a country that has a long history of enduring attacks both by external entities, such as Hezbullah in southern Lebanon, and suicide bombers within its borders. The rocket attacks from Gaza were not a new phenomenon, and the casualties, though tragic, were minimal (four in total, according to the New York Times.) "

And again, with a few minor changes to recast this thinking:

"It is undoubtedly true that Bob is an abuser, and that he has been increasing the number of beatings he has been giving Betty and the kids in recent months. However, Bob is also the man Betty chose to marry, and Betty is a woman who has a long history of enduring attacks both by external entities, such as her sexist coworkers at the mill, and verbal abuse within her family of origin. The beatings from Bob were not a new phenomenon, and the injuries, though tragic, were minimal (four missing fingers in total, according to the New York Times.)"

Hmm, what's wrong with this picture?

Barack's Dilemma

Despite maintaining the line that there can only be one president at a time, Barack Obama is starting to face pressure from the Arab world to denounce Israel's incursion into Gaza.

What's the dilemma here? Why not just issue a statement that he doesn't condone killing civilians?

Because Obama will soon find himself leading a country that is facing a similar battle against guerrilla fighters (or militants, or terrorists, or whatever you want to call them). And he knows that Israel's approach is actually correct.

And that the death of civilians is the aim, not of Israel, but of Hamas.

About the war

I am not glad that Israel is at war.

I am glad that Israel is finally defending civilians who have been living under constant rocket attacks that have gone unreported by the world media for several months now.

And frankly, screw world opinion.

Unfortunately, as I wrote over at DB's, there is really only one way to defeat guerrilla fighters, whether in the mountains of Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Gaza, and I don't think Israel has the commitment to follow through on the current strikes to make them effective and lasting:

Guerrilla fighters of any stripe depend on making a population more scared of and/or indebted to them than the enemy does, in order to gain cooperation.

The ONLY way that has ever succeeded in rooting out fighters who hide among civilians is with overwhelming efforts on three sides:

1. Improve quality of life beyond what the guerrillas are able to offer
2. Be scarier, with more firepower and more physical presence than the guerrillas (this means living among the enemy civilian population in large numbers)
3. Create a new world-view/identity for the enemy population in which the enemy civilians are powerful decision-makers in their own right, who "choose" to ally with you instead of the fighters.

Basically, this would require the full forces of the IDF and multiple international humanitarian (non-crazy left wing groups) to all work together and basically "invade" Gaza en masse for a generation.

FYI, for breaking news, see Jameel's live-blogging of the war at the Muqata.