Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pomegranate Splash

Pomegranates are my favorite fruit (with persimmons a close second), and any time that I can use them in a drink recipe, I am a happy man.  This drink can be alcoholic or not at your discretion, allowing it to be enjoyed by the whole family on warm nights and barbecues.  Enjoy!

2      1-liter bottles of chilled ginger ale
2      750ml. bottles of sparkling wine, chilled.
2      16oz. bottles pomegranate juice, chilled
1      lemon, sliced.

In a large pitcher, combine the wine or ginger ale and the juice, add ice, then the lemon slices.

Bruce Kingsford is happy to bring this drink to you, courtesy of his sister.  He hopes you enjoy it.  

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jalapeno Poppers

The Thrill of the Grilling Season is upon me - this is without doubt the greatest time of the year for comestibles. Prometheus' gift to Man is more than heat and light - it is a medium of art, as oils for a painter or clay for a sculptor. Everything tastes better when cooked on an open flame, and some things (like today's recipe) transcend tasty to achieve true magnificence.  Enjoy with my compliments.

18 jalapeno peppers (select straight peppers if possible)
8 ounces pepperjack cheese cut into matchstick slivers
cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces smoked ham, cut into matchstick slivers
fresh cilantro sprigs
Smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton; optional)

If using a jalapeno rack (which holds the peppers upright), slice the top off each pepper and carefully scoop out the seeds and ribs. If using an aluminum pan, slice a thin piece off the side of each pepper, exposing the seeds and ribs; scoop out. Discard the thin pieces.

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, smoked cheese, ham, Tabasco sauce, and garlic salt. Spoon into a resealable plastic bag and snip 1/2 inch off one lower corner. Pipe the cheese mixture into each pepper. Dust with smoked paprika, if using.

Arrange the poppers in the pepper rack, if using, or in the aluminum pan.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high. Grill the peppers (away from direct heat) with the lid down until the cheese melts and the peppers are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer the poppers to plates or a platter. Let cool slightly before serving.

The Editor fell in love with jalapeno poppers in his junior year in high school, and has loved them ever since.  This recipe comes the closest to his first experience, and he hopes you fall in love as well.  

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Amaretto Sunrise

Tequila sunrise?  Bah.  Amaretto is far superior - it has a better, smoother taste, and the color is far better for mixed drinks.  With that in mind, here is an update to this popular drink.  Enjoy it in the early afternoon, or at sunset with your friends.

  • 1/3 oz Amaretto     
  • 4 oz Orange Juice
  • 1/12 oz Grenadine     
Mixing instructions:
Mix together the amaretto and orange juice. Pour into glass and then add the grenadine.

Cheddar-Stuffed Hamburgers with Peach Ketchup

Summer is fast approaching in my neck of the woods, and so I thought it was time to share some of my recipes for the grill, to enjoy on the forthcoming warm days.  Today's fare is a variation on the cheeseburger with peach ketchup.

4       medium peaches, pealed, pitted, and cut up.
1/4    cup sugar.
2       tsp. cider vinegar.
1       tsp. chili powder.
1/4    tsp. black pepper.
1/2    tsp. salt.
1/8    tsp. cinnamon.
1       dash cayenne pepper.
2       lb. ground beef.
2       oz. white cheddar cheese shredded.
8       hamburger buns.

For peach ketchup: combine peaches, sugar, cider vinegar, chili powder, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper in a blender.  Cover and blend until smooth.

In a large bowl, lightly mix beef with half of the peach ketchup, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.  Divide into 8 balls.  Make an indentation in each ball and fill with cheese.  Shape meat around cheese and form into patties.

On a grill or in a 12-inch skillet (if indoors), add half of the burgers and cook for about 5 minutes, or until well-browned.  Turn and cook for 5 more minutes, or until no pink remains.  Repeat with remaining burgers.

Serve on buns with remaining peach ketchup and any other toppings or condiments you desire.  Serves 8.

The Editor has enjoyed this recipe for some time, and hopes that it will add some panache to your next outdoor party.  

Lie Down Already!

Have you ever played against an opponent who simply will not quit?  It doesn't matter how thoroughly you have beaten them, they refuse to simply lie down and start a new game.  They need to drag it out, even though victory is impossible.  It is a difficult thing, but it happens - and in this week's puzzle, it's happening to you.

Your opponent has lost - he just refuses to acknowledge it.  He continues to dance around the board sacrificing pieces and slowing you down until you have reached this point.  His King is alone, and you have three pieces left.  Despite that, he continues to dance, which would be admirable if he wasn't so good at it.  Even now, you need to box him in completely before he will concede.

You are White.  You must mate in 5 moves.
Scroll to the bottom of the page for the answer.

First Move: Knight to F4.
Your opponent's best move is to move his King to H7, putting some distance between him and your King.

Second Move: Bishop to G5. 
The box is closing, and your opponent will see it.  His best move at this point is to move his King to H8. 

Third Move: Knight to G6. Check.
The box closes further.  Moving his King back to H7 breaks up the box for the moment, but the dance must end soon.

Fourth Move: Knight to F8.  Check.
Your opponent's best move is to move his King to H8 again.  Frustrating, isn't it?

Fifth Move: Bishop to F6.  Checkmate.

Bruce Kingsford wishes that players would end their games at this point, so another game can be started.  Maybe you can brag the number of moves it took for you to be beaten, but its almost never worth it.  Play more, and these dances will become less necessary.

Better Living Through Mary Poppins

Greetings again, gentlemen of culture and ladies of discerning characteristics.

I enjoy the moving pictures as much as the next gentleman, in that I find them a diverting way to pass the time for a few hours. In today's dismal economy, I prefer the home cinema to the bustle and expense of the theater. Most times, they are simply a balm for boredom of the moment, a distraction from the drudgery of the day.

Occasionally, however, a tale is told that has a compelling story and lasting lessons for a gentleman. One such story is the subject of today's essay - Disney's Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins was released by Disney in 1964, and is set in Edwardian England, circa 1910.  The protagonist is one George Banks, a banker in a prestigious London financial institution.  Obstensively, the movie is about his children and their magical nanny Mary Poppins, but after careful consideration, I have decided that the story is really about the banker, and that his family are simply foils for his character development.  The nanny herself is the plot, the monkey wrench needed to pry the characters out of their places at the beginning of the film..

Most of the movie is ridiculous falderal, but the final half hour is instructive and well-executed, and so is deserving of some discussion.

The first scene we'll be looking a is a song regarding the travails of life, as described by George Banks.  This song speaks well of the character, and would serve as an excellent philosophy for all aspiring men and women.

This is an excellent attitude for any aspiring professional to have.  Order, structure, discipline, and duty are virtues that are unfortunately out of fashion in our modern time.  He is of course bamboozled into bringing his rapscallions to the bank.  At first, he sees this as an opportunity to educate his children on the virtue of thrift.  This is another lesson that today's wastrel youth could benefit from.  We live in a world of easy credit and endless disposable consumerism - it would be nice if even a few of these foolish young brutes leaned to save their money instead of spending like sailors fresh from the sea.

As expected, the children wish to spend their money on a ridiculous fancy - in this case, they want to purchase stale breadcrumbs from a street urchin to feed London's already fat and pretentious pigeons.  Banks understandably rejects this proposal in favor of them saving their money, contributing to the Empire's economy, and building interest on his children's behalf.  To that end, he enlists the aid of his fellow bankers to demonstrate the power of the saving and the service that banks provide to the Empire by investing the saving entrusted to them.

As the final scene of the preceding clip shows, this particular lesson is as pearls before swine - ill-tempered and stubborn swine.  If his children had not been so thoroughly corrupted by Mary Poppins earlier in the film, they would understand that their father was doing them a favor by teaching them the power of investment.  But, as children are wont to do, the boy cannot postpone his banal pleasures for even an instant, and rejects this lesson in favor of buying stale breadcrumbs, which could no doubt be had from his kitchen at home for nothing.

This is the fault of most children - they cannot or will not understand the importance of deferred enjoyment.  Money saved and invested would be better in every way than money frivolously spent.  The economy benefits from the money given to banks, which can be used to repair our crumbling infrastructure, give loans to businesses, allow commerce to increase, provide new jobs, do an everlasting service for our economy, and (heaven forfend) enrich the saver's life through compounded interest.

Doesn't that sound better than a few minutes spent using the same initial money to feed birds?

Adults could do with this lesson as well.  In an age of Payday loans and massive debt, it may be a lesson too late for some.  I urge all readers not presently investing or saving their money to do so - you will one day need money to care for yourself hen you are old.  Never permit yourself to rely on retirement benefits or lottery winnings to support you - both are equally unlikely.  What you save is what you will have, and nothing else.  Your children will need money as well, not only as they grow up, but as they prepare to enter a university or trade school.  As you get older, you will become more infirm, and more in need of medications and care.  It goes without saying that the money for such things will need to come from you - relying on public funds for such things is wishful thinking on par with dreams of the fountain of youth and the kingdom of Prestor John.

Duty, honor, thrift, discipline, and order - important lessons from George Banks.

Lord Magna is a dedicated curmugeon and a dutiful saver.  His rants on all manner of things regarding life are a pleasure to edit.   

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T-Bone Steaks with Chipotle-Cilantro Butter

Ahh, the summer.  The perfect time for relaxing afternoons, family reunions, afternoon walks, and of course, barbecues.  The grill has been a staple in my family for my entire life, and the summer is the perfect time to try new things over the open flame.  To that end, I have prepared for you a recipe that transforms the classic T-bone steak into a new experience.  This particular recipe comes to me courtesy of Bruce Kingsford.  Enjoy! 

1     stick butter, softened
2     tbsp. chopped canned chipotle chilles en adobo
2     tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro
1     tbsp. tequila
4     10 to 12oz. T-bone steaks
1     tsp. salt
1     tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Combine butter, chilies, cilantro, and tequila in a bowl and stir until incorporated.

Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a work surface and cover with an equal-size piece of plastic wrap.  Spoon butter mixture into center and roll into a log, twisting the ends until a tight cylinder is formed. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat.  Season steaks with salt and pepper and grill on one side for 4 - 5 minutes

Meanwhile, slice butter log into eight equal-size pieces.

Flip steaks and top each steak with two butter slices.  Continue to grill until butter begins to melt, about another 4-5 minutes.  Transfer to plate and serve.  Serves 4.

The editor can think of nothing better on a Sunday afternoon than grilled steaks with potato salad, a fine cigar, and a cold beer.  If you agree, try this recipe next Sunday afternoon with his compliments.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Persistence is the only virtue that I admire, and when I have the opportunity to utilize it in chess, I am a happy man.  Here, then, is your puzzle for this week. 

You have battled your opponent heavily, and have reached a point where you must strike.  Your rook is out of position for any serious offensive, so you will need to use your knight and queen to mount your final attack.

You are White.  It is possible to mate in 2 moves, but your maximum is 4.  Scroll to the bottom of the page for the answer.


First Move:  Knight to F7.  Check.
Your opponent can accelerate his demise by moving his Rook to F7, capturing your Knight.  If he is that foolish, moving your Queen to D8 forces a mate in two moves.  His best move is to move his King to G8.

Second Move:  Knight to H6.  Check.
Your opponent's best move at this point is to move to H8 to take the pressure off his king.  It also places him outside the knight's immediate striking range, which could give him time to maneuver into a better position.

Third Move:  Queen to G8.  Check.
At this point, your opponent is pretty well trapped, but he hasn't run out of options yet.  His best move at this point is to move his Rook to G8 and capture your Queen.  It gets him out of trouble in the short term.

Fourth Move:  Knight to F7.  Checkmate.

Bruce Kingsford loves chess nearly as much as he loves drink.  They are in his opinion two of the greatest activities in the world.  He hopes you will join him next week for another jaunt into the most cerebral of games.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Time's Last Gift

Time’s Last Gift
New York: Ballantine, 1972
Written by Philip José Farmer
Reviewed by Lee Strong

I bought this book during the 2010 ECOF book crawl because I heard that the principle character Lord John Gribardsun was Tarzan in disguise.

It’s an excellent disguise.

If I had had to rely on the book’s weak plot and weaker action, I never would have recognized Lord Greystoke as the inspiration for this time waster. Fortunately, Mr. Farmer provides sufficient heavy handed hints about Gribardsun’s “true” identity for the knowledgeable Greystokean to figure things out.

The boring world civilization of 2070 AD sends 4 scientists back to 12,000 BC in the first practical time machine (appropriately named the H.G. Wells I). Their mission is to gather information on humanity’s remote past including genetic and linguistic data on our Magdalenian ancestors. Led by the enigmatic Lord Gribardsun, the scientists scout out several prehistoric tribes and quickly move in with the locals. While they do gather some information, most of the book is taken up with Gribardsun’s mysterious claims, arrogant showboating, interpersonal tensions, and uncoordinated wandering around the primeval landscape without much of a research plan, not to mention much emotional or intellectual excitement. Eventually, 3 of the scientists return to 2070 AD where they learn that Gribardsun is an immortal man who is the ancestor of most of the human race many times over. The End.

To put things very mildly, I didn’t enjoy this story. The characters are all very shallow beings who travel across a poorly described landscape with few if any action-adventures or scientific findings. One male character resents the attention his wife pays to Gribardsun but, ultimately, his sulking is melodramatic without resolving anything. There’s just no reason to spend time with these cardboard cutouts.

Farmer’s supposed hero shares some history and characteristics with Tarzan but that’s about all. Gribardsun comes across as an unappealing caricature of the great ape man rather than a respectful homage. Tarzan is definitely a loner who often keeps his own counsel. Gribardsun carries these traits to decidedly unpleasant extremes without having Tarzan’s fundamental respect for other beings. All of the other humans, including 21st Century scientists and primitive tribesmen and –women, are reduced to toys or servants for The Great Man to play around with. Ultimately, he comes across as a time traveling playboy-hunter out for a good time rather than serious scientific research. The Big Revelations at the end of the novel (immortal man, constructive work, romantic plot) seem like afterthoughts tacked on to justify 200 pages of blah.

I rate Time’s Last Gift as 2.0 stars on the 5 star scale because name dropping a far better man’s life story doesn’t redeem multiple other storytelling weaknesses. – LS

Lee Strong is a bibliophile of the highest order, and a professional author currently working on a novel inspired by the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  His work can be found throughout this publication, and only improves with time. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How to make Coca Cola BlaK

Located this video in one of my many safaris around the internet. For those of you intereseted in making your own foods and beverages, this video is a true gem. Enjoy!

Guru Larry – How to make Coca Cola BlaK