Saturday, January 15, 2005

Someone complained to me the other day that the American people no longer have that rebellious spirit that they once exhibited so boldly in the sixties and seventies. "Yeah? Do you know what a blog is? " I asked. Blogs enable disgruntled employees to rag about their jobs and employers. Blogs on both sides of the political spectrum (not excluding mine) lament the idiocy and fallibility of the opposing side.* Blogs both allow us to celebrate our individualism, while enabling us to feel that we belong to a community of other like ourselves (that's what the favorite links thing is all about). Blogs allow many of us to share what we feel is unique about ourselves: a brief bio, books we're reading or what we like to watch on television.

Many bloggers with the exception of the the family or vacation scrapbook type bloggers who use the medium to record events in their lives or places they've seen without providing any opinion or commentary are here because they want to record how they see the world. I ask myself why I'm writing here, and I find that I'm keeping a record of the things that bother me in the world. Not an uncommon theme among blogs. Lately, I've been compulsively saving news articles in folders and then burning them periodically to disks. I wonder if I've suddenly become one of those 'oldish' people who obsessively gather newsclippings of serial killers or other similar modern-day atrocities. Part of me, I realize, has become a collector of these newstories, as I want a record of what's happening in the world, simply because some of it is just unbelievable. I'm not old enough to remember WWII, but I see some of the same mistakes happening again today. Discriminatory and bigoted remarks in some circles have become sanctioned and are acceptible. Lies and untruths become perforated by an almost populist fervor fueled by the outrage of a class of people who feel threatened by change. These lies are artfully spun and repeated by the political elite. Government and politics have subverted real issues to scapegoats (gay marriage, public prayer).

At the very least this world of blog maybe helping a few people learn to read, write and think critically. English teachers like to tell their students that the only way to become a good (functional) writer is to read as many (good) works and types of literature and publications as possible and to write, write, re-write and write as much as you can. (Not to mention get criticism and help when you can). Hopefully, some people out there are reading and connecting to other people who enjoy writing and they are learning not only by reading the work of other people (note, I'm not claiming that everyone's an accomplished writer. I certainly could use more guidance and discipline), they are also engaging in thoughtful dialogue about subjects that they care about. All of this helps us define who we are and builds a stronger sense of self.

*Though at some point I was more of a centrist, and I still am. I believe that there are many moderates whom both the conservative and liberal sides accuse of being the 'other' because they don't agree with them on ALL counts.

My Version of Chicken Paprikash
- 1 3-4 lb chicken cut into pieces, chicken fat and extra skin reserved
- Freshly ground pepper
- Sea salt
- 3-4 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 1 large onion sliced
- 1 large red or green pepper halved, cored, and sliced thinly
- 2 tbsp finest quality hot Hungarian paprika
- 1 large can of fire roasted stewed plum tomatoes, juice reserved
- 1/4 c. chicken broth
- 1 tsp sea salt.

Wash and pat the pieces of chicken dry. In a large skillet on high heat, heat up the chicken fat and excess skin. Remove the skin before it scorches. Add the grapeseed oil (I use this because it has a high smoke point and it's less likely to burn at high temperatures). When grease is sufficiently hot, add the chicken pieces a few at a time. Brown until golden crisp on all sides. Allow to drain on a paper towel. In a very large, thick-bottomed pot pour 2 tablspoons of the chicken fat and oil. Fry the onions until they are almost translucent but still firm. Add the peppers and cook for a few minutes more. Remove the cooked vegetables then add the chicken to the pot large pieces first. If you have to layer the chicken pieces, sprinkle one tablespoon of the paprika on the chicken then put half of the sauteed vegetables on top of the first layer. Then add the rest of the chicken, sprinkle with paprika and cover this layer with the remaining vegetables. Add the tomatoes and pour the chicken broth and tomato juice over all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve with cabbage & noodles.

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