Earl Hooker

While he was most famous for his slide guitar, which used standard tuning instead of the more usual open tuning and a short slide that allowed him to switch between slide and fretted playing, I can't find any videos of him playing slide. He was born in Mississippi in 1930 and died from tuberculosis in 1970, but in his day he was an influential blues player in Chicago and touring the US and Europe. John Lee Hooker was his cousin and he was influenced by Robert Nighthawk (early electric blues guitarist) and T-Bone Walker. Some of you may recognize this tune

Maybe from here


More below the fold.

Grim's Red Chili

Yesterday's recipe posting has me feeling like posting some more about food. There's a lot of good food writing on the internet, and I doubt that I have a great deal to offer in most areas. However, I make many good chili dishes in various forms. Here's another one.

There are many sorts of chili, I have learned in a life of loving chili. One of the chief divisions lies in whether one sears the meat first, or boils the meat first. Another lies in whether there are or are not beans included; another in whether the chilies used are green, dried brown, or red. 

This is a red chili in the old Texas style. Meat is boiled raw rather than seared first.

2 pounds ground beef, 20%+ fat
Sufficient water to cover the beef
Additional beef fat ('suet'), up to 1/2 cup if beef is lean
Dried onions, 1/2 cup (add additional onion powder if desired)
Dried garlic to taste
1/2 to 1 TBS tomato powder (or substitute tomato paste)
1/4-1/2 cup dried New Mexico red chilies or guajillo chilies
2 ancho peppers
Chipotles to taste (at least 3, more if you like spicy chili)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp sage
1 tsp black pepper (fresh ground)
Lime or lemon juice to deglaze
Salt to taste

Add meat to cast iron Dutch oven. Cover with water; add suet. Boil, covered with iron lid, until beef is soft. Add dried onions and garlic, some salt but not yet enough to finish.

Roast peppers and cumin in black iron, add water to soften once roasted and hot; puree; add to Dutch oven.

Add aromatics (sage, oregano, black pepper) while boiling.

Cook until flavors are well combined. Deglaze with squeezed lime or lemon 5 minutes before finishing. Alternatively, remove from heat (covered) while still boiling, and allow to rest overnight in a cool place. Return to boiling to sterilize. Cool and salt to finished taste preference.

A Plethora of Potentials

The local college that is putting on the EMT course for us also has training in fire fighting, motorcycle safety, casino gambling, bartending, and law enforcement.

That's quite a range. People used to tell me that studying the humanities was the road to maximizing your potential, but I don't think there's nearly as much spread between creative writing and history these days.

Grim’s Accidental Bacon-Garlic Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the manner of my grandmother, when I cook bacon I reserve the grease for later use. (I also reserve beef tallow and general pork lard.) The other day I sautéed some garlic in the bacon fat first, and just added it to my standard stock because when don’t I add garlic to a dish?

So tonight I found that my wife had purchased chocolate chips, which indicated to me that she wanted chocolate chip cookies. Therefore, I made cookies. Absently I forgot that the bacon grease was garlicked, and used it as I usually do. I realized my mistake when I smelled it baking.

It turns out that bacon-garlic chocolate chip cookies are fantastic. So, here is an opportunity for you to share in the benefits of my fortunate mistake. 


Prior to baking, cook approx. 6 strips of bacon (I use applewood) in a cast-iron skillet. Add some fresh, crushed and diced garlic right at the end to infuse the bacon grease with garlic flavor. Remove bacon and garlic; use this for other dishes such as sandwiches, quesadillas, as a pizza topping, etc. Reserve bacon grease with garlic infusion.

Grim’s Accidental Bacon-Garlic Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. I keep a pizza baking stone in my bread oven, but you probably don't need one.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup garlicked bacon grease (if you didn't quite get 1/2 cup of grease, make up the rest of the 1 cup total fat with more butter)
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 full cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp maple syrup
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour*
1 12oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Soften butter and bacon grease; whip together with sugars, baking soda, and vanilla until fluffy. Continue beating on a lower speed as you add each egg. Add flour in divisions to allow easy admixture. Spoon onto greased baking sheets; bake until cookies are browned across the top and at the edges, then remove to cool. Switch to cooling racks after approx. one minute. Eat hot and gooey, or save for later consumption. 

* I used 1.25 cups King Arthur whole red wheat all purpose flour, and 1.25 cups White Lily Self-Rising flour; you can substitute any 2.5 cups of all purpose or similar baking flour. I like this mixture because the red wheat flour is very nutty, but then benefits from the lightness of the White Lily and its additional rising products. White Lily is the only flour capable of producing Southern biscuits, which are extremely light and tender. The red wheat flour is heavy and dense, so this mix gives you the nuttiness without the weight. A regular all purpose flour is probably just fine. 

The Feast of Brigid

There is an ongoing debate about whether Brigid was an early abbess and saint whose life became intertwined with stories about an earlier pagan goddess of the same name; or, alternatively, if the folk tales later thought to be survivors of an earlier pagan tradition were themselves just spinoffs of the stories ordinary people came to tell about St. Brigid

It is emblematic of our age that Ireland has decided to elevate her status to that of a third patron, along with Patrick and Columba, a celebration that entails her being depicted as a "kick-ass warrior poet and goddess" by the celebrity appointed to honor her. As Irish Times dryly noted, "Few people have described St Patrick as kick-ass." Just as per the recent post here and at AVI's place on the way in which Jesus was differently depicted by different ages, though, the 'kick ass warrior goddess' is the only one our age knows how to value; if she is to be important to our culture at all, she perforce must be important in that way. 

What Brigid was really good at -- both the myths and the saint-stories agree -- was multiplication. She was reputed to be able to encourage or bar fertility, including of a pregnant nun (as one can multiply by zero, I suppose): "A certain woman who had taken the vow of chastity fell, through the youthful desire of pleasure, and her womb swelled with child. Brigid, exercising the most potent strength of her ineffable faith, blessed her, causing the child to disappear, without coming to birth, and without pain." This has led to a pro-abortion NGO being named after the Catholic saint, which is an irony of ironies; what the Church thinks about that particular saint-story, I have not heard. 

Irish Central has a collection of prayers.

The Postmodern Bill of Rights

The Orthosphere is being satirical today; Satyrical, even, in places.

"1. Congress shall make no law respectful of religion...."

Jaroslav Pelikan’s Life and Works

 "Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name." – Jaroslav Pelikan

In a discussion over at AVI’s, james brought up Jaroslav Pelikan (1923-2006), a scholar I don’t believe I’d ever heard of before but, after a bit of investigation, I truly wish I had.

Wikipedia tells us he was “an American scholar of the history of Christianity, Christian theology, and medieval intellectual history at Yale University.” A bit of a prodigy, he had earned both a seminary degree from Concordia Seminary and PhD from the University of Chicago by the age of 22. He spent most of his career teaching at Yale. Coming from a line of Lutheran pastors, he also was ordained a Lutheran pastor early in life. Later in life he and his wife both became Eastern Orthodox Christians. 

Wikipedia gives a humorous anecdote from his life:

While at Yale, Pelikan won a contest sponsored by Field & Stream magazine for Ed Zern's column "Exit Laughing" to translate the motto of the Madison Avenue Rod, Gun, Bloody Mary & Labrador Retriever Benevolent Association ("Keep your powder, your trout flies and your martinis dry") into Latin. Pelikan's winning entry mentioned the martini first, but Pelikan explained that it seemed no less than fitting to have the apéritif come first. His winning entry:

Semper siccandae sunt: potio
Pulvis, et pelliculatio.

The 30+ books he wrote which are listed on Wikipedia should provide something interesting for anyone in the Hall interested in Christianity, I would think. I’ll put the full list below the fold, but AVI recommends JesusThrough the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture (1985). James read one of his 5-volume history, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, 5 vols. (1973–1990). 

Titles that also grabbed my attention included Bach Among the Theologians (1986), Christianity and Classical Culture: The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism (1993), Faust the Theologian (1995), and What Has Athens to Do with Jerusalem? Timaeus and Genesis in Counterpoint (1998). However, almost all of his work sounds interesting for me.

His life and more on his works are given over at Christian Scholars Online.

I’m happy james and AVI brought him to my attention. If you two read this, thank you!

I’ve included a long-ish selection of his works (copied from Wikipedia) below the fold.

Fancy "Dinner"

You have probably seen Hollywood movies in which, for a joke, an intensely masculine character played by someone like Sylvester Stallone or Arnold is taken to a restaurant at which tiny pieces of food are served as "dinner." I was taken to one such restaurant in D.C. during this last week, and the experience was much as Hollywood portrays it for laughs. 

The menu was 90%+ a wine list, the less said about which the better. Though I was a guest and all such expenses were to be covered, the prices were so outlandish that I refused to spend even someone else's money on such a thing. In any case there were cocktails and champagnes provided as part of the meal, which already required breaking my January fast out of politeness to my host, so I did not feel that anything beyond water was necessary in addition.

The first course was what turned out to be a fried piece of pigeon, which was quite delicious but perhaps one and a half ounces fully cooked. It was arranged with a symmetrically tiny piece of some sort of hash, the two miniscule pieces of food arranged on a full-sized dinner plate that was decorated with a geometric drizzle of some sort.  

The second course was pasta, and there were approximately four spoonfuls of it. It was good, as was the pigeon -- "squab" -- but it was obviously not intended to serve as a meal for a grown man.

The main course was billed as "surf & turf," and I think I know what that means: it means a steak served alongside a lobster or fish or the like. In this case it was about 4 oz. of slow-cooked beef shank, which again was very tasty; the 'surf' portion turned out to be the sauce provided on the side, which was made with ingredients that included fish. 

Now this whole dinner was served over the course of two hours, with many lectures from wait staff about the particular ingredients used and cultural reference points -- one of the drinks they served was "Death in the Afternoon," which required some discussion of Hemmingway -- so I was good and hungry by the time the meal ended. 

All was forgiven, however, when I returned to my hotel and found that the 'gift box' they had provided diners on the way out the door turned out to be -- I am not making this up -- an elaborately-wrapped cheeseburger. It would have been better hot, but the joke was well-played. 

Next time, all the same, I'd prefer a real steak sizable enough that I won't mind if you keep the fish.