Sunday, February 05, 2006

Time for a religion to grow up.

This post is a bit more serious than the last few.

This week, I've been reading about the growing anger in the Islamic world over the Danish (and other European) newspapers' publishing cartoons of Muhammad, some of which were insulting by themselves. (even discounting the Islamic prohibition against depictions of Muhammad in the first place.)

The first thing that strikes me as unusual is - the Danes? They're the last Europeans I would have thought to get embroiled in something like this. They're usually the tolerant ones - shying away from anything ... confrontational.

The second is, why now? These cartoons were first published back in September or October. Why are they suddenly being republished now? Why weren't they such a hot topic back then?

Gives one pause to wonder why.

But to me the real issue here is the Islamic reaction. Not that it's unusual. It's not, they do this anytime someone in the Western press says or does anything remotely related to something they construe as an insult to their religion.

That's the problem. For years, Muslim papers have been publishing some of the most insulting cartoons of Jewish figures, ridiculing the Jews, and nowhere has anybody in a religious position of power in the Islamic world said anything about respecting someone else's religion. I'd bet that they've published a few about Christian figures, too, although I don't know it for a fact. But all of a sudden, let someone publish a few critical of Islam, and now, people have to die over it!

European papers say it's a freedom of speech issue. The US government, in a cynical effort to appear less critical of the Islamic world, has noted that such freedom has to be tempered with responsibility. Funny, that's the first time I've heard that one around here. Try that one in a journalistic seminar about free speech, and you'll get laughed outta the room!

The real issue here is that Muslims need to let their religion grow up and meet the modern world. I'm not saying that they have to allow muslims to suddenly start drawing depictions of Muhammad, no. I'm saying that they have to understand that not everybody feels bound by sharia (Islamic law). Muslims feel that it's ok for them to insult others, as long as they're unbelievers. But it's death for someone to insult Islam. Sorry, folks, double standard. The world doesn't work that way.

Muslims need to understand that not everybody feels the same way, and that when they erupt in violent protest, burning embassies, pronouncing death sentences, etc., they only perpetuate the image the rest of the world already has of their religion.

They keep saying that Islam is a peaceful religion. But the Koran says explicitly that unbelievers are to be killed. They keep saying that it is a loving religion. But it is also an intolerant one, that assumes everyone else should be bound by their rules. That's not very loving. Even though I'm not Muslim, if I draw a picture of Muhammad they don't like, all of a sudden, I have a death sentence over my head!

Grow up, people! I promise, if you draw an insulting picture of the Pope, I won't burn your embassy down.

But do go ahead and boycott Danish or European goods. That's fine; it's a much more effective way to get your point across! But burning embassies and pronouncing death sentences don't. You do NOT read about something called a war against Islam in the Western press, only in Muslim papers. Except for each other, Christians haven't shot at anybody over religion for quite a while, and I'd bet, unless you shoot first, we're not gonna start again now.

Freedom of the press be damned. Non-Muslims are NOT bound by the Islamic prohibition against making images of Muhammad, or anybody else. Christians have been making images of Jesus, and God, for centuries. Jews, believe it or not, have been pretty good about not making such images as far as I know. They take the first commandment much more seriously than the Christian world has. But nobody in the Christian community expects Muslims to adhere to our religious laws. Most Christian countries even allow Muslims to build and worship at mosques. But can Christians build and worship at churches in Muslim countries? Hell, no! In Saudi Arabia, they won't even officially allow Christians to worship in private homes, much less allow a church to contaminate their holy soil! Most tellingly, even in Israel, Muslims are allowed to build mosques and worship there.

So if the Islamic world wants the rest of us to respect their religion, they need to start respecting ours. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all worship the same God. We just don't all agree on the status of different prophets. So that's a basis for killing each other?

In this world of nuclear death, that is insane.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Pop's chili

RePost!  Just for grins, here's that chili recipe again:

Here it is, my “famous” chili recipe! Like most good ones, it is mostly ‘in the wrist’, and thrown together by instinct, but I’ll try to put down here what I do.

Start with good meat. If you just want hotdog chili, you can use regular hamburger meat, since it’s ground fine. Larger ground “chili grind” the grocery stores often have is ok for a quick pot. But for really good chili, a good cut of meat is a must. A good tender roast, cut into 1/4 to 3/8 inch cubes works best, and I find that venison makes a great chili!

I use an iron pot and wooden spoons. It never tastes right in stainless steel or aluminum.

Fresh spices are best, of course.

3 – 4 lbs meat (beef or venison, ground or cubed as preferred)
McCormick Hickory Smoke flavored salt to taste
1/2 large or one small onion, cut in medium (1/2 inch) pieces
1 stalk green onion, diced small
2-3 tbs bacon grease or olive oil
1/2 tsp dill
Garlic, minced (1 clove or powder to taste)
3 tbs Woody’s Cook-in’ Sauce
black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp parsley
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
2-3 shakes Tabasco Chipotle sauce
6 – 7 “shakes” Chili powder*
1/2 tsp red Chili powder*
3 tbs Masa corn flour mixed in water
1 can tomato sauce
1 can stewed and diced tomatoes

* The chili powder is the base flavoring that gives this dish its distinctive taste. You must experiment with this spice to get the heat you want. I use a small amount of the basic chili powder as flavoring, and the red pepper is the one that gives it the real heat. BE CAREFUL with the red pepper! Remember – you can always put in more, but you can’t take it out once it’s in!

Melt the bacon grease in an iron skillet. (You can use olive oil if you’re watching your fat, but bacon grease gives it a better flavor.) Dice the onion and sauté it in the grease or oil until it’s transparent. Add the green onion and sauté it as well. Add the minced garlic clove here, too, or add the powder form instead.

Add the meat. As it browns, add the McCormick hickory smoke salt, black pepper, dill, and parsley. Brown the meat thoroughly. Add the Woody’s now. After a couple more minutes to allow the Woody’s to cook in, add the can of tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes, along with a couple of shakes of the Tabasco chipotle sauce.

Add the cumin, chili powder, red chili powder and oregano.

Now put the Masa corn flour in a bowl and add cold water enough to make it into a medium thin soupy mix. It should pour from the bowl like a thin batter. Once the chili is back to a good boil, add the mixture to the chili, pouring from the bowl, stirring it in slowly. This will thicken the chili, and add a good background flavor, too.

That’s all you need to add. Just let it cook. Once it gets back up to a boil after adding the corn flour mixture, back it down to a simmer and cook for at least another 30 minutes. An hour would be better. Add water to it as needed to keep it from getting too thick or sticking. Stir often to prevent it from burning to the bottom of the pot.

Serve in bowls, with fresh bread, or breadsticks, or cornbread. The finer ground meats make it work great on hotdogs, too. You can sprinkle cheese over the top, or add the cheese and ‘nuke’ it to melt the cheese in. Sharp cheddar works best, since its got a strong taste.

A note about the spices: The amounts I gave above are a guess. Start small and add to taste. As I noted about the red pepper, you can always add more, but you can’t ever take it out once it’s in. If you do ever put in too much pepper, you can add water and corn flour to try to water it down, but that’ll throw off the other spices’ taste. Best to start small, taste often and fiddle with it as needed. Instead of canned stewed tomatoes, you can use home grown tomatoes you’ve stewed yourself. If you do, cut ‘em up small, and stew ‘em well.

Another note about (shudder) beans: Don’t get me wrong, I love beans – just not in chili! There are two camps in Texas regarding beans. One won’t make it without ‘em, the other (the right one!) says they’re a cheap filler when yer low on meat! That’s why you won’t see ‘em in my recipe!

A poem about chili:


by Jack Prelutsky

When Tillie ate the chili,
She erupted from her seat,
She gulped a quart of water,
And fled screaming down the street,
She coughed, she wheezed, she sputtered,
She ran totally amok,
She set a new world record
As she raced around the block.
Tillie's mouth was full of fire,
Tillie's eyes were red with tears,
She was smoking from her nostrils,
She was steaming from her ears,
She cooled off an hour later,
Showing perfect self-control
As she said, "What tasty chili,
I should like another bowl."

January 06

Hmmm, made Chicken Fried Steak today - turned out great! Used unbleached flour and whole wheat in half and half amounts. With cream gravy, sauted yellow and orange bell peppers, wow!

We're going to Brunswick tomorrow for the MLK weekend. Doing some cleanup, plus I'm gonna work on a threshhold for the dining room/kitchen doorway, probably Sunday. also some reading and just plain lazy stuff...

Scary story in the papers yesterday about some thugs using battering rams on peoples' front doors. Didn't hurt anybody, but scared the crap outta a lotsa folks! Prince George's county, tho, not Montgomery or Frederick.

Gonna have waffles Sunday. Recipe:



4 Ea Eggs
1 Tsp Sugar
2 cups Milk
1/2 Cup Melted Butter
2 Cups Flour
4 Tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp Salt


Start waffle iron heating.

Separate eggs into two containers. Whip whites until stiff. Hold till later.

Add sugar to yolks and whisk until thick. Add milk and melted butter. Sift flour together with salt and baking powder and add to liquid ingredients to form a batter.

Take 1/3 of stiff egg whites and stir into batter. Fold remainder of whites into batter carefully.

Add batter to hot iron to make one waffle, being careful to avoid spilling over side. Cook for 6-7 minutes until golden brown.


Substitute 1 cup of whole wheat flour for 1 cup of flour.

Really good, been using this one for almost thirty years.