Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sexy, Sexy Beast

Grover Cleveland Comments on the "Stimulus" Package
"I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution; and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadily resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character. . . . "
Oh . . . baby . . . yes! Yes! Yes!
Sexiest. President. Ever.

Cheddar-Garlic-Beer Bread

If there is one thing I've learned about cooking from my dad, it is this: If you like the way ingredients taste separately, try mixing them together -- you may be disappointed or grossed out, but sometimes you hit gold. In this spirit, I have been baking beer bread with increasingly yummy additions over the past few days. Today, I am up to cheddar-garlic-beer bread. Tomorrow, maybe I'll add in some bacon. Aw yeah!

Here is the recipe, if you're in the mood to try some:

3 cups of self-rising flour
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of garlic salt
20 heads of roasted garlic*, sliced in half, marinated in olive oil (just enough to cover the heads) overnight + the olive oil
1 12 oz. bottle of beer (I use a blond lager -- would use Harp, if I could find it locally)
1 cup of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (4 oz. of a block)

Mix all together in a big bowl. Put into lightly greased 9X5 inch bread pan. Top with a few tablespoons of crumbly extra sharp cheddar -- believe me, you'll have some after grating the cheese block. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Enjoy warm with lots of butter (why the hell not?).

*This is how I roast garlic: Get a bunch of garlic heads naked. Then, cut off the ends and slice in half. Coat some tin foil with olive oil, layer the garlic, then spray with more olive oil and sprinkle garlic salt and pepper. Cover this with some more tin foil and roast at 300 degrees for about an hour. Garlic should be extremely soft and taste mellow and sweet. I could seriously snack on these like potato chips, but I try to respect the people I live with.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Onward Crunchy Conservatives!

What is a crunchy conservative?

Well, Rod Dreher wrote a book a couple years ago dedicated to exploring this term which, I believe, he coined. It is Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, Gun-Loving Organic Gardeners, Evangelical Free-Range Farmers, Hip Homeschooling Mamas, Right-Wing Nature Lovers, and Their Diverse Tribe of Countercultural Conservatives Plan to Save America (or at Least the Republican Party) (Crown Forum, 2006). Basically, the idea is that, just because a person happens to be politically, economically and socially conservative, it doesn't mean that they can't be a swinging hipster as well. As a gal who clung to the political indentity of "libertarian" (and that's small-l, thank you very much -- I don't live in my parents' basement) long after realizing that she agreed far more with GOP platform planks than with much of what the LP put forward simply because she couldn't bear to be tagged with the tragically uncool title of "Republican," this idea resonates big time. And don't I love Canada too much to be a Republican, anyway?

Maybe not. Maybe not.

I have not read Mr. Dreher's book, though I'm trying to get it from the library. I'll confess: I'm not keen on organic produce, which I think is pretty much a big scam (plus, ask Pa Ingalls what he thought of organic farming when the grasshoppers ate his wheat crop in Minnesota -- give that man some pesticide, I say!); I do not own any Birkenstocks; and my overly sociable daughter has kept me from being a homeschooler. However, I am not a conservative who thinks that there is some kind of glory in wrecking the environment; that hybrids are lame; that recycling is stupid; that smaller living is a compromise of freedom. I tend to like simple things -- and, above that, to appreciate experiences over things (unless those things happen to be books or Carolyn Arends CDs).

I also believe quite passionately Christ's call to serve. The thing is, I think that most Republicans do as well. Certainly religious Republicans do. Somehow, conservatives have let the compassionate label be hijacked by the liberal side, so that even Republicans will decry the greed and selfishness of their own fellows, as it appears Mr. Dreher might do in his book. However, so many different studies have proven the opposite, most notably Arthur Brooks's research for Who Really Cares?, that it is time for conservatives to stop cowering and stop accepting such slander. It is much more bold and daring and compassionate and Christ-like to use your own time and your own hard-earned money to help your fellow man than it is to demand at the point of a gun* money from others to be filtered through layers of bureaucracy before pennies on the dollar can be used to help those in real need. No Christian conservative I know thinks that he has the right to keep to himself every resource God has blessed him with; but, he sure as hell doesn't think that the government has a greater claim to it than he.

I also try to follow to a certain extent G.K. Chesterton's ideas about economics -- distributism. I'm still learning about his theories, but what I've grasped so far is that it is better to patronize small businesses owned by families whenever possible. That is, choose the local grocery store over the national chain; choose a cozy, unique restaurant instead of McDonald's; buy as locally as you can, whenever you can. As Gilbert Keith once wrote: "The problem with capitalism is not too many capitalists; it is too few." Good words, those. We need to get back to the self-sufficiency of an ownership society; too many Americans work for someone else their entire lives, and our economy makes it difficult to do otherwise. I guess that is one reason I am not too fond of Wal-Mart, despite their dazzlingly low prices which certainly help struggling families.

So, I think I'm a good candidate for crunchy conservatism. One of my goals this year has been particularly crunchy, and, since I'm one step closer to achieving it today, I'll share it here: I want to cut drastically down on my car usage by bicycling. I have embraced the Trek challenge -- One World. Two Wheels -- that encourages trips of less than 2 miles to be made on bikes. To this end, I purchased a beautiful purple bicycle today. My hope is to train for a month or so and then get a bike trailer to pull along the two gorgeous girls I have the pleasure of watching. Two repeated trips that I'm planning to bike are Sadie's daily school commute and Rylee's pick-ups/drop-offs, both of which are within a few miles of our house. Pray for me, please.

Living smaller can certainly mean living in a better, healthier, less stress-filled world. I like the way that sounds; and if that makes me crunchy, then call me a carrot stick.

*All government money and power is obtained at the point of a gun. If you don't believe it, try not paying your taxes. I mean, try not paying your taxes if you're a regular person, not an Obama cabinet nominee.