Thursday, September 03, 2009

Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken

A quick and zesty, unbeatable summer pasta dish takes only about ten minutes to prepare and another fifteen to cook. You can balance it with fresh greens, something like Jinmyo's Boston Lettuce Salad would be nice. Make sure you have olive oil, garlic and some dried basil on hand before you head off to the grocery store.

Shopping List:


    2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
    2 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast Halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
    1 Carrot, sliced diagonally into ¼ inch pieces
    1 (10 ounce) package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
    2 Garlic Cloves, minced
    12 Ounces Angel Hair Pasta
    2/3 Cup Chicken Broth
    1 Teaspoon Dried Basil
    ¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated


Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat; add chicken. Cook, stirring until the chicken is cooked through, about five minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Heat the remaining oil in the same skillet. Start the water boiling for the pasta. You can rub the sides of the pot with a little vegetable oil to prevent the water from boiling over. While your waiting for the water add the carrots to the skillet and stir for about four minutes. Add the broccoli and garlic stirring it all for another two minutes longer.

Cook the pasta according to directions. While that's going, add the chicken broth, basil and Parmesan to the skillet. Return the chicken to the skillet and reduce the heat to low, simmering for four minutes.

Drain the pasta and place it in a large serving bowl. Top off with the chicken and veggies. This will serve 2 to 4, depending upon the rest of the meal. You'll want a white wine with it.

Some helpful hints:

  • Ounce for ounce, fresh Parmesan cheese is a better value, and tastier , than the canned variety. Wrapped well, it will keep for several weeks in the fridge and six months in the freezer. You can prepare the chicken ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to two days before. Simply reheat it and serve over pasta.
  • If you use garlic in a lot of recipes you can chop several heads of them at once. Put the chopped garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil in an airtight glass container. It will keep stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • Why not? For some variety you can use a 10 ounce package of frozen peas instead of the broccoli and a cup of chopped ham for the chicken.
  • Wednesday, September 02, 2009


    Ferdinand Feghoot a character brought to life by Reginald Bretnor (1911-1992) under the anagrammatic pseudonym name, Grendel Briarton. Mr. Bretnor was a resident of Medford, Oregon. Born in Vladivostok, Siberia his family moved to San Diego, California in 1920. As a writer, he seemed fascinated by puns authoring many book two of which are "Through Time and Space With Ferdinand Feghoot", and "The Complete Feghoot". A paperback Feghoot collection was published by Paradox Press in 1962 and The Mirage Press published two other editions: The Compleat Feghoot and The (Even More) Compleat Feghoot. His final novel was Schimmelhorn's Gold from Ace, a collection of Bretnor's stories about an oversexed octogenarian idiot/genius. He was a Nebula Award Best Short story nominee in 1967 for Earthwoman, as well as a critical essayist on military theory. Writing mostly in short form, either fact or fiction, he enjoyed getting a piece completed as soon as possible, so he could move on to something else. An insatiable curiosity, and try as he may, Bretnor could not keep humor at bay from any serious subject.

    Bretnor's interests included science fiction and fact, Japanese swords, cats, weaponry and military strategies and tactics of the past, present and future. The prolific science fiction and mystery writer of more than 40 years, died on July 15, 1992 at his home.

    The bumbling Scourge of the Space-Time Continua, time traveling philanthropist Ferdinand Feghoot first appeared in the "Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction",which ran for years, as the star of the series, "Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot". In the May 1956 issue a long series of monthly half-page pun-stories debuted. A typical entry had feckless and shrewd Feghoot rescuing a Parisian landlord who had thrown himself in the river to drown because none of his tenants were paying him. Ferdinand Feghoot quipped the man "didn't have enough rents to come in out of the Seine." The series gave rise to dozens of ardent imitators, and one professional one: Randall Garrett who wrote a series of pun-stories for Amazing (Mar. 1962), in which the pun involved a professional Science Fiction writer's name, and starred a character named Benedict Breadfruit. These complete short stories, as opposed to a joke ending with a pun, were originally of the science fiction genre, sometimes called groaners or shaggy dog story shaggy dog stories (A story with a spoonerism as a punch line). Over time feghoots have become more generalized; a flash fiction of sorts that are usually 300 to 500 words long. They have a rather contrived and thin plot with characters, a beginning, middle and endings that are frequently Spooneristic.

    Perhaps the stories which come closest to Bretnor's style have a tall tale quality to them and wittiness akin to the Azazel stories that became the staple of Isaac Asimov near the end of his writing career. His style of humor can particularly be seen in the first couple of stories, "Maybe Just a Little One," which theorizes about the atomic power of the element frijolium, extracted from common Mexican beans.

    Asimov loved making puns and one of his most memorable short stories ends with a spooneristic feghoot best summarized as

    ".....a fellow named Stein commits a crime, then uses a time machine to escape to a point in the future just after the statute of limitations on his offense has run out.

    He's arrested anyway, and brought to trial on the theory that since Stein had not actually lived through that passage of time, the statute of limitations should not apply.

    The judge scours through the evidence and arguments, then issues a six-word verdict: "A niche in time saves Stein."
    -Poetic Justice

    Here's one more classic example of a terrific groaner.....

    At one point, the Illustrious Feghoot was called in to help a struggling humanoid race on Phi-Omega 9. Their problem was desperate indeed. You see, virtually all of the landmass of the planet was composed of a series of very high mesas and plateaus. The rain, rather than falling on the top of the plateaus, would be expended on the sides. This made farming virtually impossible, so the hapless humanoids were trapped in the Stone Age, neither able to farm effectively nor develop the technology to irrigate the high mesas.

    Of course, the poor aliens called upon Ferdinand Feghoot, the illustrious time traveler and philanthropist, to aid them.

    Upon arriving, Feghoot looked over the situation and immediately hit upon a solution. He instructed the aliens to dig a trench up the side of the closest plateau, and sent off to Earth for 90 tons of pickles. Once the aliens had ceased digging, Feghoot had them lay the pickles side by side, end to end, along the entire length of the trench. Immediately the water began to flow up the trench and onto the plateau.

    The aliens were astounded. "We knew you were a brilliant man, but this is beyond our wildest dreams. We do not understand, though, why the water flows uphill simply because of the presence of pickled cucumbers. What makes this amazing thing occur?"

    Feghoot, with a condescending but genial air, replied, "Simple, my boy. We've known it on Earth for centuries. Indeed, every school child knows that, 'dill waters run steep'"

    David Koblick defines a feghoot in Isolated M (October, 1997, page 18)

    " the early 1950s, Tony Boucher and J. Francis McComas co-edited (always a questionable arrangement at best) The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. David was a passing acquaintance of J. Francis, but he knew Tony quite well; thus he had a contemporary interest in their magazine. One of magazine's writers was Reginald Bretnor (a.k.a. Grendel Briarton), who told tales of one Ferdinand Feghoot. This original Feghoot was a space adventurer, roaming the galaxy saving himself and others from one danger after another peril. Each event '...ended with a pun that summed up the situation just resolved.' In one well known - possibly the first - adventure, Ferd dealt with another spacer named Stein, who himself escaped by slipping into a time warp. David reports that the particulars are somewhat hazy, but the first feghoot was probably 'A niche in time saves Stein.' Now you have it."


    Oracle Humor



    The Timeless Tales of Reginald Bretnor

    Monday, August 31, 2009

    The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

    The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.
    (Caprichos no. 43: El sueño de la razon produce monstruos.),c. 1796-1797

    The Spanish master Francisco Goya (1746-1828), graphically depicts the danger of creating from William Blake's world of dreams and visions he used to escape the rules of reason. From a series called Los Caprichos. In The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters the rational mind is stilled as the human figure sleeps, while around him congregate the winged monsters who have skittered freely into being in the absence of thoughtful control, the idea of sexual control of men plucked bare. A visionary work he linked it to the art of Blake's Tiepolo. A piece from early in his career, it is a criticism of "human errors and vices," although the subjects are often obscure and interpretation purposely difficult, it lampoons both political and religious figures. It was intended as the frontispiece for the series Los Caprichos, but Goya soon reconsidered this, probably because the subject related too closely to Henri Rousseau's 1793 Paris edition of Philosophie at a time when the very name of Rousseau was considered bête noire to religious and political leaders in Spain. Instead, Goya buried The Sleep of Reason well within the series and created a more traditional self portrait as the frontispiece. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters survived as a coded expression of the artist's politics as court painter to King Carlos IV during a time when Goya was becoming increasingly sympathetic to the cause of the Spanish peasants. It was during the development of this series that Goya suffered a protracted illness leaving him totally deaf and developing within him a terrible sense of isolation.


    Debbie Adams. "Artists and Art in the Classroom." Tucson, Arizona.
    1994. (Lecture presented at St Joseph's Catholic School.)

    De La Croix, Horst, Richard D. Tansey, and Diane Kirkpatrick.
    Art Thtough the Ages. University of Michigan: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

    Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art

    Justus, Kevin. "Art and Culture II." Tucson , Arizona.
    1992. (Lecture presented at Pima Community College.)

    Picture Source

    Sunday, August 30, 2009


    Gee Whiz Facts About Ice

    Most kinds of matter contract as they freeze, but when water freezes its molecules move apart taking up more space and become locked together making it less dense than water. That's why ice floats in a glass of water. Salt water is even denser than fresh water, so giant icebergs, which are composed of fresh water float in the ocean.

    Some chemicals like salt lower the freezing temperature of water and can make ice melt. This chemical reaction keeps the temperature of water at about 28ºF, lower that the freezing point for water. This is what happens when making ophie's easy homemade ice cream When salt and ice are added around the out side of the ice cream "freezer" or in this example ophie's coffee can, the resulting water provides a uniform chilling effect around the ice cream, but will not freeze it. Without salt, the ice would melt, and the water temperature would rise preventing the ice cream from freezing.

    The effects of pressure on ice explains how big masses of glaciers can slide downhill. Storglaciaren in Sweden has been clocked moving at 3 inches a day and Rinks Ibrae, a glacier in Greenland, has been recorded moving about 90 feet a day!

    More Gee Whiz Facts

  • The tallest iceberg on record was one in the North Atlantic estimated to be nearly as tall as the
    Washington Monument-- and that was just the part sticking out of the water! (Two-thirds of the average iceberg's
    total mass is under water)
  • Glacier's ice crystals may grow as large as softballs.
  • About one-tenth of the earth is covered by ice.
  • Some Arctic insects contain a kind of antifreeze. The Arctic Beetle can survive temperatures as low as - 76ºF.
  • The Roman emperor Nero is believed to have had runners bring ice and snow from mountain areas so he could enjoy ice wines and fruit.
  • Picture Source
    Sandra Markle,Oddball Ice,Creative Classroom(Jan/Feb 2001), 67.
  • Impossible Cheeseburger Pie

    One can't talk about Impossible Cheeseburger Pie without first explaining what Bisquick is but before that one has to figure out what is a biscuit is and where they came from. Generally speaking in the perfect world of biscuits in the Deep South, biscuits are to Southerners as the potatoes are to the Irish. But I hear tell that what we call biscuits are really meant as crackers or cookies to many in Europe. In other parts of the United States biscuits can be understood as a doughy mixture used for topping on pies to the type of bread characteristically served with chicken fried steak and gravy. In the past, ship's biscuit and hard-tack were staples of sailors and soldiers because of the food's endurance. Biscuits known as the European counterpart of the American crackers date back to earliest times:

      "The Reims biscuit was originally a flat cake that was put back in the oven after being removed from its tin. This made it drier and harder but improved its keeping qualities. This very hard, barely risen biscuit was for centuries the staple food of soldiers and sailors. Roman legions were familiar with it and Pliny claimed that "Parthian bread" would keep for centuries...Soldiers biscuits or army biscuits were known under Louis XIV as "stone bread." In 1894, army biscuits were replaced by war bread made of starch, sugar, water, nitrogenous matter, ash, and cellulose, but the name "army biscuit" stuck, even with the method of manufacture changed...Traveller's biscuits, in the 19th century, were hard pastries or cakes wrapped in tin foil which kept well."
      (Larousse Gastronomique, Jenifer Harvey Lang editor Crown:New York 1988.)

    The word biscuit is a compilation of the Latin words bis meaning "twice" in addition to coctus meaning "cooked". (I snuck that right in there didn't I? I'll bet you never saw it comin') In 1818 John Palmer wrote about the American meaning of them in his Journal of Travels in the United States of North America, and in Lower Canada. A decade later Webster 1828 was defining the confection as "a composition of flour and butter, made and baked in private families."

    By and large just before the Great Depression this was implied to be "soda biscuits" or "baking-soda biscuits" that are puffy leavened little breads which were in contrast to the unleavened cracker type. Soda biscuit recipes can be found in just about every 19th century cookbook, especially in reference to southern cooking. The southern states are also the home to the buttermilk biscuit or less commonly known as the "beaten biscuit," first mentioned in print around 1853.

    Fast forward to 1930 when Lime Jell-O appeared on the local grocer shelf along with Mott's Apple Sauce, Snickers, Toll House cookies, Twinkies, sliced Wonder Bread and a revolutionary baking mix by the name of Bisquick. Developed by General Mills almost seventy years ago as a pre-packaged quick biscuit mix. Today it is still sold in the familiar yellow box as a staple for biscuits, shortcakes, and quick dinners.

      In 1930, when Carl Smith, a General Mills sales executive, was returning to San Francisco by train, he arrived at the dining car too late to order. Yet he was served a plate of delicious, oven-hot biscuits only moments after he sat down. He was amazed by the cook's ability to produce fresh biscuits in such a short time. His curiosity led him to the galley, where the chef was pleased to show him his trick for making fresh baked biscuits. The chef had blended lard, flour, baking powder and salt and stored the mixture in an ice chest. From this batter, he had quickly made the biscuits to order. This was an entirely new idea at the time. Smith recognized the potential of a pre-mixed baking mix and took it to the head chemist of the Sperry division of General Mills, Charlie Kress.

      The challenges in creating such a product were significant. Most important was the creation of the proper blend of ingredients to make the biscuits as good as - or better than - homemade. Secrecy surrounded all testing operations; General Mills was concerned that other companies also were going to market biscuit mixes. Bisquick, however, was the first on the market. And just months after its release nationally, there were 96 biscuit mixes on the market. Only six, though, survived into the following year, and they all trailed in sales behind Bisquick.

      Some of the technologies used in the development of Bisquick were later used to create cake mixes. In the beginning, Bisquick advertising told consumers that it" Makes Anybody a Perfect Biscuit Maker." The new product, however, could be used to make a variety of foods. Recipes were developed for meat pies, coffee cakes, pancakes, nut breads, dumplings, shortcake and cobblers....In the mid-1950s, the advertising claimed, quite appropriately, that Bisquick was "A World of Baking in a Box." ... In the late 1960s, a new Bisquick formula was created, adding more shortening, a new leavening system and buttermilk.

    Impossible Cheeseburger Pie is an easy dinner for busy people to throw together and still feel like they're preparing a home cooked meal. One of the more popular recipes from Bisquick, it can be found on the side of the box from time to time. Divided it in half and bake in a small casserole dish and it's a perfect meal for two.

    Impossible Cheeseburger Pie

    What to have on hand:

    What you will need to do:

    Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees. While it's heating, Polly put the Skillet on and brown the ground meat and onion in a pre-seasoned iron skillet* over medium heat. Break the meat up into crumbled pieces with a fork and cook it until there is no pink showing then drain off any fat.

    While the meat is browning get out a medium sized mixing bowl and combine the milk, biscuit mix, eggs, salt and pepper and whisk together until fairly smooth. If you're up for the mess you can put it in the blender for about 15 seconds. I prefer to use a whisk, it takes all of a minute to get it the right consistency plus I don't have to assemble, take apart, and then wash the blender.

    Now you're ready to pour the batter over the meat in the hot skillet. The hot skillet is the key secret here to a nice golden brown crust on the edges. Pop the skillet into the oven for 25 minutes take it out, top with the tomatoes and sprinkle the cheese on top then bake about 5 to 8 minutes more. You can tell it's done by inserting a knife in the center of the pie and it comes out clean. Cool it for five minutes.

    Serve this sassafrassin' food with mixed greens, some toast, and a fruit salad. It says it feeds about six, but it's more like four hungry hombres.

    *A greased ten-inch pie plate will do in a pinch, if you don't have a cast iron skillet, you can brown the meat in a pan on the stove top put it in the pie pan and top with the batter then follow the rest of the recipe.

    riverrun says Yummy! And informative too! I love that British naval biscuits during the Napoleonic Wars *depended* upon weevils for essential protein. Great recipes in those books, btw, if you take to historical novels.


    The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani. Lebhar-Friedman:New York, 1999.

    The Food Timeline--history notes

    General Mills