Friday, February 27, 2009


Friday night for many people is a night out. After a hard weeks work, a restaurant meal, time with friends. For some it's a noisy bar, laughter and ringing sound. I'm all for some fun on Saturdays or Sunday afternoon but on Friday nights, I just want to decompress. No phone, no noise. Just a nice home made meal and a book and a comfy bed to curl up in.

There's a lot of speculation in the comments about what exactly I do during the week. My favorite was "Medical Examiner, Personal Protection and Contract Killer."

It's probably a lot more boring than you think, but I can tell you it's sensitive enough I'd best not talk about it. I can say simply that it pays OK and that I have a Dr. in front of my name, but it's not a "Dr. your patient is here" kind of doctor. My job has many hats, some fun for an adventuresome sort, and some simply involving massive books and piles of paper.
Potential disaster, death and terror. Not typical dinner subjects, yet ones that often come up in my social group. People who spend part of their time dealing with the mechanisms of disaster gravitate towards people who, like us, have a job that sometimes consists of nothing more than waiting for someone to have a really bad day. I worry about fate less; yes sometimes you are simply the bug on the windshield by being at the wrong place at the right time but I've also found that a good portion of our misfortunes arise, not from fate or ill health or the vagrancies of the winds, but from human rancor, fueled by innate stupidity, and those ever present justifications of the same, hell bent idealism and proselytizing mania for the sake of religious or political effigies. I'm required to be dispassionate and get into a routine. Empathy is a great quality in a person, but so is efficacy.
Like others who do what I do, I've seen a lot, learning the hard way that there is danger and dangerous souls in the world and I'm not one to shy away from it because maybe I can do something about it. It's not a glamorous job, but for me there is hope in it, there is order. I've never had the sense of clockwork conspiracies, or some kind of imposing order of evil. There's simply a sense of things falling apart. That's my sense of how most bad things happen, that it's not usually some kind of calculated evil driven by karma, but simply control disintegrating. Most times, things fall apart and happen out of stupidity and carelessness, not any one's personal jihad. And I'm there to either prevent it, or if I can't, pick up the pieces.

But it carries with it a load and by Friday night, I simply wish to be alone for a few hours, to savor that which affirms that I am alive.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


There is nothing like a pair of hand crafted grips on a favorite gun. Like some foods, some things can be made by hand, or mass produced. Mac and Cheese is one of my favorite foods. Probably a close second behind steak. But not the blue boxed kind. but When I have time it's made the way my Mom did. From scratch, with multiple ingredients, including ham and onions, slow baked until the top is just crunchy.

You can NOT get this in a box or a freezer case. (the recipe and instructions will be in the comments)
You start by sauteing some smoked ham and onions.

Then there is the cheese. Don't panic. This isn't a picture of a pound and a half of butter, it's Irish cheddar, fresh and pure and no orange chemical dyes.

You make a roux (don't worry, there's directions in the recipe) then add the milk and cheese, til a thick bubbly sauce is formed. There's all kinds of flavor in it, including a dash of hot sauce. Pour about half the sauce in with the cooked macaroni, add the ham mixture, then some more cheese, regular cheddar for a bit of color.

Then pour the rest of the sauce over the top of it all. By covering up the last bit of cheese, the top can slow cook without getting too brown.

Slow cook til it's perfect.

And plate up. Remember, if you try your hand at this, try to avoid stampeding house guests, barking dogs or marriage proposals. This dish would convert the most hardened dieter and is worth the calories once in a while.

Seconds? Sure.

This is a truly handcrafted meal, harking back to the days of our childhood, where dinner was neither takeout or delivered but a labor of a parent's love. This dish is neither particularly simple or cheap to make, yet in place of those frugal virtues, it provides a rich palate of flavors that bring back memory, or create a new one. Like the handmade grips on a great big gun in the household, some things are best in the memory as hand crafted. For this is the only blue box I want to see on my counter.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Goodness My Guinness

Peteys Powderhorn ran a What Beer are You? quiz yesterday. I have to go to Chicago tomorrow to speak at some shindig. Chicago. I think I'll need a Guinness or two tonight, just to get used to that idea. On the plus side I only have to be up there a couple of days.
"Okay, we all know Guinness is the best possible score on any "What Kind Of Beer Are You" test, so you can just go on and pat yourself on the back now. Like the world's most famous brew, you're genuine, you've got good taste, and you're sophisticated. What else can I say, except congratulations? If your friends didn't score the same way, get ready for them to say: Guinness is too heavy; it's an acquired taste; it's too serious--and they probably think those things about you at times. But just brush 'em off. Everybody knows Guinness is the best. Cheers"

But even if you don't agree with the test review, or the brew, I'd bet you'd agree to a Chocolate Stout Cupcake, a little offering to my coworkers who will hold down the fort til I get back.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

New Jovian Thunderbolt talked about using a police qualification target for lack of anything else at the range. I agree, they're sometimes sort of hard to put up against a smaller backdrop, but they're SO much fun.

40 feet and a box of .45 acp, with just the sights the weapon came off the line with.

It's going to be a couple days before I'm off duty and get to have some days off at home, hopefully there will be some targets left by then.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dieters - Avert your eyes.

I agree with one of my friends, there is nothing better than just a good plain steak. No fancy sauce, no special rubs. Some salt and pepper and grill it just til it stops mooing and dive in.

But what to do when you don't have a lot of steak to serve and and a very welcome but unexpected couple of friends drop by? Or you are just hankering for something different, AND you want it from start to table in less than 30 minutes?

Home on the Range Smothered Steak.

Thick seared steak cooked in a totally foolproof bachelor version of horseradish laced, red wine gravy with mushrooms. Seriously, you can make this dish in less than 10 minutes plus bake time. The ingredients are ones many of you have on hand. Served with potatoes or some "from the box" wild rice pilaf to soak up the sauce and stretch the servings; two decent sized steaks will serve three to four people and you won't have any complaints.