U.S. vs. Portugal: Two Days Later

Game Ending TieIt’s been almost forty-eight hours since Varela put that conquistador’s cross in the back of the net and I’m beginning to come to terms with it. We more or less took the best player in the game and, for ninty-four minutes, marginalized him. Sure he had flashes of quality, but rarely did he pose a threat. I’m almost accepting the fact that the referee gave two minutes of stoppage time at the end of a first half that included a water break but gave five minutes at the end of a second half than ran fairly smoothly and on pace. What I am having trouble getting past is the poor form displayed by the Portuguese.

Form has a specific meaning in Soccer. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about ettiquette, manners, presenting yourself in such a way that others would deem you trustworthy.  Continue reading

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Obama, Kerry, and the Flat Earth Society

My favorite politically issued “talking point” has to be the “gravitas” deployment of 2000. The word “gravitas”, previously unused unless four words from the phrase “Dame Judy Dench (DBE 1988)”, was on the tips of all the well connected tongues within the blink of an eye. A pre-tingled Chris Matthews commented of G.W. Bush, “there have been questions raised about his gravitas.” Al Gore wondered if Bush lacked it. Stuart Rothenberg had ideas about how Bush could gain it. From the New York Times to The Kansas City Star, editorialists were learning the name of their papers’ theater critics for the first time as jargon inseminated jargon. What a time to be alive.

Move forward thirteen years. This one is good too. After much soul searching. polling, and test grouping, the administration has decided that those that disagree with their environmental policy shall be henceforth referred to as members of “The Flat Earth Society.” Continue reading

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It’s Grilling Season! Let’s Make Spaghetti!

IMG_3498I’m not actually planning to cook pasta on a grill, although I once cooked a single noodle on my Weber just to say that I did it. Crunchy. No, this, like life, is all about the sauce.

Steaks on the grill are nice. As are lamb and pork chops, burgers, hot dogs, varied kabobish things… it’s a long list and I’ve cooked or eaten through my fair share leading to my considered conclusion that grilling chicken legs slathered in barbeque sauce is the highest and best use of fire. Zeus be damned, it may be sobrinal obligation bringing that eagle back day after day to peck at the Promethean six pack.

Anyone who has spent more than a passing moment on these electronic pages is well aware of my adoration of tomato sauces. This is my best attempt, playing to my strengths and prejudices, to unseat spiced up yardbird. Continue reading

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Some Things of Interest 12/3/13: Ritz Crackers and a Danger in Your Refridgerator You Might Not Know About. News at Eleven.



My fascination with Canadians and their food dates back to a family trip to Detroit almost twenty years ago. My brother and I crossed over to Windsor to order a bacon cheeseburger and see what we got. We wanted to know if Canadians called Canadian bacon “Canadian bacon” or just plain “bacon.” My honeymoon was spent eating our way through Vancouver and Victoria which, I should tell you, if you haven’t, do. I must admit to overlooking the fastidiousness with which Canadians go about balancing their meals. At least Canadians not named Kristin Barkiw of Rossburn, Manitoba, which is somewhere up there.

The lunch she packed for her two children, roast beef with carrots, potatoes, milk and an orange, missed the mark of 1 milk, 1 meat, 1 grain, and 2 fruits/vegetable by a grain, so unlike a Big Mac – two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onion, on a sesame seed bun – did not meet the requirements set down by her chosen day care facility and left her subject to a fine of $5 per child. Not to be left grainless, the day care supplemented the kid’s meal with Ritz crackers, and here the trouble begins. As James Lileks points out in his “Athwart” column in the recent National Review, the choice of Ritz crackers is particularly provocative. As the plural of Ritz is Ritz and there are two children involved we are left unsure how many butter filled processed grain wafers are required to raise the nutritional value of left over roast beef, carrots, potatoes, an orange, and some milk to that of a Big Mac. One? Three? Half? Perfidy!

Turkey LeftoversFive days in and we still have a long way to go. Seven adults and two children had a go at the beast on Thanksgiving night. Days of snacking, various meals, and a carcass devouring soup have already claimed their shares and still a mighty pile remains. Tonight, pulled meat with turkey stock and Scriracha. It won’t make a dent. In my Google quest to find something interesting to do with the remains I came across this surprising article warning against keeping left over turkey in the fridge for more than three or four days lest it bacterialize you. Confident that the warning came from someone who owns a “Roadtrip for Ralph ’08″ t-shirt, assuming they haven’t all spontaneously biodegraded by now, I searched for refutation. Nope. No Corvair here. Thanksgiving Turkey, per the experts, is bad by Monday. To put that in perspective, say your attempt to have The Best Christmas Ever! via a Wal-Mart Black Friday sale results in a broken arm and possible concussion requiring observation. By the time you are released from the hospital your bird is likely contaminated. No leftovers? That’s not America. At least not as our founders saw it. I say this because I plan on eating the rest of this bird and there is no way I’m finishing tonight. I know that I go on blogging hiatus for weeks or months, but I intend to keep at it for the next little while, so in case you don’t hear from me in the next few days, assume the worst.

The University of Notre Dame is not Mario Batali. Is it just me or does it seem like he should have at least one if not two more consonants in his last name. Turns out it was prudence rather than greed that delayed payment. As of this afternoon, Legends of Notre Dame, a bar owned by the university has released two $5,000 tips to two of their bartenders. An anonymous benefactor has made a habit of stamping receipts with @tipsforjesus and tipping $3,000 and $7,000 in Michigan and $5,000 twice in one place on the same day near Notre Dame and tips in the thousands popping up all over the country. Suspicion leans toward the patron being a college football fan as college football fans are inherently noble. Also, the receipts pop up in towns around the time they host “major” (for the non-SEC fan at least, which is cute) college football games. But back to Legend’s of Notre Dame, why can I get “Irish Nachos” but there’s no Shepherd’s Pie?

Etc. Damn, that was a sexy press conference… Because you can’t put a price on, wait. What?… How is it alive? How?… The good life in action.

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Let’s Just Super Size It To A Billiondy-Million

Wilfred Scott McDonaldThis Thursday, strangely on the anniversary of no people’s anything that I can find, America’s fast food workers, we are told, will rise as one in cities across the nation to decry their meager wages and make the case that fast food employees deserve a minimum wage of $15 and hour. fastfoodforward.org tells us that “Raising pay for fast food workers will benefit workers and strengthen the overall economy.” Service Employees International Union’s web site tells us “I’ve told friends and family on Facebook about my “success story” with the Affordable Care Act, and several friends have emailed me for more information about how to sign up.” So priorities are fleeting. No doubt the ACA defacto mandated 29 hour work week will bring them round these parts again. There is a mention of support for Wal-Mart workers hope for higher pay on the home page, but no direct tie in to the fast food issue despite the New York Times mention of the SEIU’s backing. Continue reading

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Recipe: Simple Piperade (Pronounced Like Gatorade)

Of course he's not tired. He's had his Piperade.

Of course he’s not tired. He’s had his Piperade.

When I was in high school my friends and I held deeply rooted opinions about incredibly stupid things. Thankfully, age has refined and focused our scope of interest. We are now serious adults with serious adult opinions about serious adult stuff. But when we were younger, we actually argued about who was the best rock guitarist. Jimmy Hendrix? Jimmy Page? There was always some outcast with greasy bangs who would bring up Steve Via, but you know… kids. The argument usually boiled down to Jimmy Page and wild abandon vs. Eric Clapton and controlled precision. Was it more impressive to bang away and play a few bars with your teeth like Page or acknowledge limits and work to impress within them like Clapton? As with all high school debates, it was a zero sum game. All or nothing. An adult can acknowledge the charms of both a Page-like high alcohol, highly extracted zinfandel and Clapton-like restrained, refined Bordeaux without triggering a brain swelling conflict event. Not so an adolescent. Opposing opinions take root in the youthful cortex and volley back and forth with notional mortars and grenades until one side, sensing imminent defeat, launches an all out attempt to escape the head entirely. That’s what causes zits.

This is a really long way of saying that Basque cooking is Eric Clapton. It’s all eggs and paprika. So when I tell you that this Basque dish, Piperade, has eggs and paprika, you should hum a few bars of “Walk Out In The Rain” instead of calling me Captain Obvious. So yes, it’s a simple dish. But it’s damned good. Backless good. Continue reading

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SI Makes Us Wait For Sex, Drugs and College Football One-ups The Mob

SI accuses OSU of using sex to sell their program.

SI accuses OSU of using sex to sell their program.

Sports Illustrated just published part one and the overview of a five part series detailing alleged improprieties committed by the Oklahoma State University football program over roughly the last decade and the football world went gaga. Hat tip to SI for serializing. Hook us with salacious tales and them bore us with dollars and cents. Part 1: Money was released Tuesday. Part 2: Academics came out Yesterday. Merely appetizers. In the overview we were tantalized by revelations that members of the hostess program gave it their all while players used and dealt drugs. Here comes Part 3: Sex today and Part 4: Drugs on Friday. The weekend is looking up.

Sports Illustrated, seemingly has made up its mind as to the veracity of the evidence they have so far put forth. Of former OSU assistants Joe DeForest and Larry Porter, “DeForest and assistant Larry Porter, who was running backs coach from 2002 to ’04, also made straight payments to players.” That’s not the tentative statement of a multi-million dollar publishing entity with what would be assumed a Manhattan skyscraper floor’s worth of legal advice/warnings. No “allegedly.” No “according to witnesses.” X did Y. That doesn’t mean SI is right. It does mean they are confident in this article. Continue reading

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Let’s Talk About Parsley.

Ex-ParrotIf you have ever seriously considered murdering a parrot, this might be the most important blog post you ever read. According to The Food Encyclopedia, parsley is “poisonous to most birds and lethal to birds in the parrot family.” Here’s the best part. The Kitchen Physician puts forth the contradictory notion that parsley is not only not poisonous to birds, it’s practically a panacea. There is no downside for the would-be bird killer here. Continue reading

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No Longer In Repose

Tom Bagby from Substrate Radio's GET SOME!

Tom Bagby from Substrate Radio’s GET SOME!

I let the blog go. I even let the domain lapse. Had you been a bit more alert, gentle reader, you could have usurped my domain name and ruled mightstainyourshirt.com in your own right, but you had your chance. I’m back to sing the praises of Dutch ovens, rosés, the Oxford comma, and anchovies to my heart’s content. My return is partly inspired by the most welcome return of Confluent Kitchen, partly intoxicated/deluded by the same urge to be heard that stokes and stocks town hall meetings, op-eds, and any event where one person stands on a stage and the word “slam” is somewhere on the promotional flier, and partly driven by my on-the-cusp-of-seven-year-old’s suggestion that I use my blog to tell the world that a second door handle on my Hyundai came off in my hand and Hyundai won’t come across with one penny to fix what their maintenance guys say is a faulty part (this is really a thing) that costs around $220 with installation so “no one will ever buy a Honda, I mean Hyundai, again.” Really I just missed writing about food, wine, football, and poets who drink themselves to death.

Not a huge blog post to (re)start things off, but if you want to tune your browser, I’ll be on the web station Substrate Radio tonight as a guest on Tom Bagby’s GET SOME! We’ll be reminiscing about restaurant days, drinking beer, tasting cheese, discussing food writing, and listening to what I’m told will be a jazzy diversion from the show’s usual alternative, metal, punk, or generally harder than jazz roots. The show is 7-9 Central so that means 8-10 Eastern, 6-8 Mountain, and sometime shortly after one of those long lunches I imagine Walter Becker types indulge in in California where the subject of conversation flows without shame from vineyards to infidelities to tax shelters to cocaine. This is my first time in any type of broadcast booth so the potential for disaster is very real. I’m taking solace in the fact that Tom has done the show solo to great result so I can hide in a corner if need be. Anyway, tune in if you get the chance.

UPDATE 9/5/13: Pod cast to be available tomorrow at http://www.substrateradio.com/

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Good People Brewing Co. Collectivelly Sell Souls to Devil, Gets Baseball Park Built Across Street

IMG_3473It seems too good to be true: a small Birmingham craft brewery looking to make it big moves to an out of the way warehouse in Alabama, a state peculiarly unfriendly to beer makers and just downright rude to beer drinkers. Before them obstacles fall and opportunities arise. The City of Birmingham green lights a plan to build a new 8,500 seat stadium for AA baseball’s Birmingham Barons directly across the street from them. The pro-beer organization Free The Hops successfully lobbies the state legislature to pass The Brewery Modernization Act allowing them to open a tasting room bar in the brewery itself. Luck? Insider knowledge? Well placed bribes? Shrewd business sense? On condition of anonymity, a Good People Brewery employee gives mightstainyourshirt.com a glimpse of those behind an ambitious brewery on the cusp of realizing their dreams.

“It has to be about the beer,” says our insider, Qfwfq (not his real name). “The beer has to come first. If you skimp on ingredients, if you take shortcuts, you fail yourself and you fail your customers. Early on… we were learning as we went so, sure, we played up the Good People ethos,” he continued. “Not exactly ‘oh shucks’ or anything like that, but we knew there would be mistakes in the beginning so we adopted an attitude that said to our customers ‘Look, we make great beer, but the scope of this thing is new to us. We will fuck something up, but we are on the lookout and whatever mistakes we make, we’ll fix.’ People understand that. If you let them know where you are headed and demonstrate that you are on the path, they forgive the occasional foamy keg or sour ale.” He pulled on his cigarette and looked at me with earnest eyes. “We made it this far and can see even brighter days coming. We have a product we are really excited about, experience, and a tried and true process that consistently scores us high caliber brews. We are where we want to be now, but I really feel like it was our ability to convey our goals to our customers that kept us afloat in the early days. As a back up, we sold our souls to Satan, our Dark Lord and Master.” Continue reading

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