Thursday, July 9, 2009

Going On Leave!

After a marathon few weeks, and a brutal sprint to the finish these last few days, I'm finally going on leave for two weeks and change. Blogging will probably be light, but with luck I'll get to see many of my readers in person. I'll be touring the Upper Midwest as usual, with the main stay at home in Wisconsin and forays to the Twin Cities and across the great grey-green greasy Limpopo to see the Elephant's Child and family in the flatlands of Illinois, whence we intend to make a pilgrimage to the Fort. Those of you who are up with me on Facebook, I'll have a more detailed itinerary up there. Otherwise, if you're in the area and would like to grab lunch or something, drop me a note and we'll see what we can pull off.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Classic Moments in Soldiering: TA-50 Bomb

TA-50 is the catchall term for Army-issued gear. It has a habit of 'sploding all over one's living quarters if not stored carefully:

Since I came back from Georgia, my room's slowly been getting disorganized as I sort and pack things for the Iraq. Then today I needed some gear for the rifle range, and had to dig through all my packed crates to find it in a hurry. And now my room's a disaster that I don't even want to look at or think about. Just thought I'd share.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Recipe Plug: Smitten Kitchen's Cherry Brown Butter Bars

This was too good not to plug. And I totally dropped the ball on getting a picture. I made it with about half blackberries and half the strawberry/blueberry mix left over from Independence Day Pancakes. I added a touch more sugar to compensate for the tartness of the blackberries and a splash of almond extract, well, because it was there. Next time, I'll do all blackberries, if only for the joy of saying "brown butter blackberry bars" three times fast.

Brown butter is amazing. You'll recognize it immediately as the aroma of baking shortbread or pie crust, but in dangerously concentrated form. Add fresh summer fruit, and the result is... well, you'll just have to make it yourself. It's assertive, though, so I don't think I'd go with anything less bold than cherries. Apples or pears would probably be overwhelmed. Currants and gooseberries would be delicious, and very Continental if you're into that.

Breadbasket of the World

Africa alone could feed the world.

That's not a claim most people would think to attach to a continent mostly known in the West for heart-rending images of malnutrition. But to anyone who's seen the way things grow in tropical African soil, and considering the amount of under-utilized farmland, it doesn't seem so far-fetched. The solution, according to the article, is a variant of the plaintive refrain I often heard from a Sudanese teacher of mine: "if only we had peace and good government, we would be a very rich nation". Ah, there's the rub.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day

My sister made the pancakes. Delicious.

UPDATE: I should give proper recipe credit: these were the 4-Grain Pancakes from the most recent Joy of Cooking, which I'm currently coveting.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

On Texas

I still love the culture and landscapes of the Upper Midwest too much consider permanently calling any other state "home", but boy I'd be happy to have a man like Rick Perry as my governor. And of the various places I've lived in the Army, West Texas is probably the only serious contender as a place I'd be happy to settle in if life happens to take me there again.