Saturday, December 5, 2009

Optimism and some Football

Smiley from millan.netIt is snowing - not big heavy flakes, but light floaty flakes that will never really cover the ground.  Maybe the snow will help to bring in the Christmas spirit.  I have all the decorations up, but it still doesn't feel like it is Christmas.  I probably just need to get over myself and go find someone that needs my help.  Ultimately that is what is about.. Right?  Giving of oneself? 

Bookgroup at my house was a success.  The food was fabulous and I always enjoy so much talking with them and getting everyone's updates.  By the way...Vegan sausage rolls are ok.  I ate one as it came out of the oven.  Texture was still a little weird, but flavor was ok.  I am still very much attached to pork fat!

We read Candide by Voltaire.  I love discussing philosphy with my friends and with Ralph.  The bookgroup still found it a little hard to find humor in monkeys running around biting womens butts and the women actually liking it.  Or a one buttocked women thinking she is a sex symbol.  To me that is funny.  Voltaire takes a huge pop-shot at royalty and the church as he writes this book.  One of his centuries freest thinkers and trailblazers for it.  One of my favorite quotes from the book is "What is Optimism?" asked Cacambo.  "Alas!" replied Candide; "it is the mania for maintaining that all is right when everything is wrong"   I find myself frequently doing this, not that it is wrong but I think that you can mistake hope for optimism.  They may go together, but they are different.  Voltaire definitley spends the whole book showcasing human suffering, which of course causes the protagonist to see the world as perhaps not the best: "If this is the best of all possible worlds, what must the others be like?"  At the end after his whole journey to find Candide's beautiful true love - he finds out that she is not so much what he imagined.  He marries her anyway and after all the hardships and sufferings he endured, he grasps what is really important in life: "In Voltaire's most famous words, "Il faut cultiver notre jardin" ("we must cultivate our garden") .  After all the travails of life, Voltaire believes that work and industry are antidote to man's unhappy condition. "Labor keeps aloof from us three great evils, - dullness, vice, and want."  Great Book

Football - I love it. 
Oregon vs Oregon State - Wow what a game!  Those Rogers brothers are speedy speedy speedy.  I wonder if the Utes will end up playing them.  We might go to either Las Vegas or the Pointsettia Bowl
Pitt vs Cincy - Cincy has a chance, but Pitt looks amazing
Florida vs Alabama - I honestly don't care who wins this one - I would love to see both of these teams beat.
How will all of this fall out for the bowl games.  All I have to say is that if TCU and BSU don't get the games the deserve and end uplaying each other - there needs to be some serious changes.  The SEC is too afraid they will be beat by TCU.  I would like to see BSU be able to play Cincy or Pitt - that would be a good game.  Tomorrows  rankings and standings will tell all.

For the rest of the day we will be out and about, purchasing stuff to make gifts for friends and family.  I will be finishing up cards and gift tags.  Oh yeah, I also have a Sunday Schoool lesson to prepare.  Not too excited about this one.  It is on "being a good citizen".  Make sure you be good to your neighbor, keep your yards neat, and make sure you vote.  

Recipe for the day - Since it is snowing - I think a good soup is on the menu.
My Clam Chowder
Chowder recipes are a dime a dozen. This is one that we have adapted until we both like it. Feel free to increase the amount of clams.

1 ¼ cup diced celery
1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
1 ¼ pound canned clams, drained
2 – 3 cups of reserved clam juice
2-3 thick bacon slices, diced
½ tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbls butter
2 Tbls flour
3 cups heavy cream, half & half, or a mixture of both
6 Tbls cooking sherry
Tabasco sauce
Worcestershire sauce

Place the potatoes in a large sauce pan, cover with water, and boil until tender.
While the potatoes are cooking, sauté the bacon in a large stockpot until it is crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon bits, and set them aside. Add the butter, celery, onion, garlic and bay leaves to the bacon drippings. Sauté until the onion is translucent.

Add the flour to the vegetable mixture, and stir over heat to cook the flour (2 -3 minutes). Whisk the cream and clam juice into the vegetables and flour, stirring constantly to work out any lumps. Reduce the heat to simmer. Season with the sherry, Tabasco, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, and thyme. Strain the water from the cooked potatoes, and add the potatoes and clams to the chowder.

Heat to serving temperature and serve immediately with crusty sourdough bread.

Keep Warm and Ta Ta for now
Smiley from

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