Archive for November, 2006

The Ultimate Gingersnaps

Monday, November 13th, 2006

I’ve been hitting the gingersnaps pretty hard. Homemade, store-bought, homemade bought at the store, store-bought stolen from other people’s homes… you name it, and I’ve eaten its gingersnap. That hobo passed out in the alley, clutching the brown sack with the picture of Grandma on it, the one you kicked? That was me.

But it has been worth it. I think I’m on something.

I mean, on to something.

This gingersnap is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with a rich molasses flavor and just enough ginger. The texture on these is just about perfect, and they flatten out to that elusive low-key puffiness that makes you go “mwahum, mmwahmwahm” when you eat them. The top cracks up into that great “parched desert of chewy deliciousness” look.

For this last batch, I kept the cookies smaller and came away with about 40 two-inch cookies plus two five-inch supercookies (my favorite). I also remembered to roll them in sugar before putting them in the oven. As before, I used fresh organic ginger. I also used organic sugars and flour. It’s hard to say whether the extra expense contributed directly to the outcome, but it’s also hard to argue with the results:

1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
some white sugar on a plate to roll the cookies in

Mix the brown sugar, oil, molasses, and egg in one bowl and the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger in another. Don’t be tempted to splash in any extra molasses, or you’ll kill the ginger flavor. I like cloves though, so I did spill in a little more than half a teaspoon. Add the dry stuff to the wet stuff until you have sticky dough. Roll the dough into balls about an inch around, then roll them in some white sugar on a plate before putting them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

If you want them a little chewy inside, bake them for about 12 minutes at between 350 and 375. For more solid cookies, go the full 375 and bake for closer to 15 minutes. I know this basically because I put the first batch in too soon, before the oven was preheated, and it was chewy, while the second batch sat a little longer in the oven while I finished a song on Guitar Hero, and they were crispy.

I might make just one more batch of these between now and Thanksgiving, but after that, I need to take a look at some chocolate ideas I’ve been having, and some lemon bars will be due very soon as well now that I’ve cleared the gingersnap level.

Workin’ on the goat farm

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

People seem to expect me to regret having voted for Kinky now that Perry is back in office. “Wouldn’t you have preferred at least someone other than Perry?” they ask.

Well, yes. I’d have preferred Kinky Friedman.

Between the smugly indifferent Perry, the indignant fratboy Bell, and the sour-grapes “tough grandma” nobody really wants to go visit, there simply wasn’t a candidate even worth a compromise.

I get this kind of question mainly from what I call “strategic voters,” these people who endorse the bizarre practice of voting for a candidate other than their favorite in an effort to depose a widely-despised incumbent. But their strategic voting is a policy of failure and a crippling social disease. It robs the favorite candidate of crucial votes required to win, thereby helping to secure a loss. And if everyone voted this way, we’d have no way of knowing who everyone’s favorite candidate actually was. We’d be deliberately electing everyone’s second choice instead.

This kind of nonsense is what we should be voting out, but my guess is that people are opting to vote it in under the misguided impression that voting it out could never win.

If it’s concentrated voting power we need, then we need to beat it into the national discourse that the only votes wasted are those pre-emptively cast for second choices. As it is, the dominant political parties are beating it in that people’s votes are wasted right off the bat, and that the only way to get even a shred of what anyone wants is to vote for one of the parties they — the parties themselves — declare to be the frontrunners.

This might play well with the original-sin types at church, but in a democracy, this is horse-shit. A candidate who can’t win without another candidate’s votes doesn’t deserve to win at all.

People should be outraged when this kind of intimidation is used as a campaign tactic. No massive, cumbersome political party with vague ideals has any right to declare my vote or anyone else’s vote “wasted.” Fall for what propaganda you will, but the people of this country should refuse to be demoralized into voting under any circumstances.

Bell can’t garner enough support to win the election? Maybe he shouldn’t have been filling a blank on the ballot in the first place. Do we really want a governor who was only elected because he was the only existing alternative? Where would Kinky be if the Democrats hadn’t been able to scramble a flimsy placeholder in time?

Thanks to the dominant two-party system (of which I’m well aware, thank you), we will of course never know. The essential lameness is that the Democrats have to run someone, and straight-ticket Democrats need someone to blindly endorse.

If there’s any blame to be assigned for the outcome of the 2006 Texan gubernatorial election, it’s with the parties and candidates themselves.

But I have no sympathy for anyone who voted for any candidate other than their favorite.

It’s not Kinky’s fault that Perry has been re-elected. That determination has been made by the voters… fraud notwithstanding. The losing candidates who look at Kinky’s tally and wish they had it for themselves should be advised: those votes were never yours to begin with.

I’m no more heartbroken that Perry is back in office than I would’ve been if the election had been won by any other candidate besides Kinky. As far as I’m concerned, all but Kinky were equally bad for Texas. They’re all spineless, self-serving, and so far detached from what really goes on with the people of this state that one disastrous project’s cuts would only have opened funding for another.

I’m proud to have voted for Kinky. I’m proud to have made a selection as an informed and empowered member of our society, and to have voted according to my principles, beliefs, and ideals.

But now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to apply for work on Kinky’s goat farm.

Fox News: Rumsfeld has no plans to step down

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

It has just been announced that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is stepping down. At 12:12 PM CST, a Google search for “Donald Rumsfeld” returns the following news results:

Clicking on the “No Plans to Step Down” story takes you to the, er, revised version:

Fox News: You decide! We just sort of make it up as we go, slapping headlines on old material when actual news happens.

Ode to Apple-H

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

O Apple-H,

How thou shalt hide many an App.

Clear the horizon, make me suffer not the grisly visage of the brutal task at hand.

Bury the cruel presence of reality until once more I dare call it forth.

And may one day our triumph prevail, when I call upon an App not to Hide,

but to Hide Others.