Exceptional… for what?

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OK, I learned something about the Iranian people this week. They have the phrase “Death to…” They then tack on something. Like Death to high prices or Death to bad breath. For years I couldn’t figure out the phrase because it never seemed like we were getting the actual meaning of what they meant by it. Their corresponding actions rarely matched the rhetoric.

Folks the Iranian people are having a time of it. Bad leadership both political and religious have them with inadequate water, a bad economy, a poor currency and lack of tourism.
As a conservative, the hip shot response is why don’t they fix it themselves? Why don’t they just rise up and overthrow the system? This perspective rings as hollow now as “Death to”. Every culture has a series of phrases that while expressing frustration really is just communal whining and moaning meaning nothing.
I look at my own country. We are blatantly abusing the civil rights of minorities here through open season gun laws that benefit the majority but oppress the minority. We mass incarcerate people of color like cows at a slaughterhouse. We let people die in the street from hunger, homelessness, and mental illness of all kinds because of…”personal responsibility”.
And when people rise up in protest local, state, and national government is more than willing to put them down as violently as any other backward country.
How exceptional are we? I used to think we were exceptional; a shining castle on a hill. I don’t think so anymore. We seem to be just one of many dirty homes in the valley struggling to get by until the next election. Deep inside we all know nothing will change with the next regime but we hope and we pray something will change.
There are a lot of people that ask where is God in all of this? Why doesn’t God do something? And I think God does respond through ideas, feelings, inspiration, conviction. I just think that as people we cast these things aside or bastardize the concept for the monetary gains. It is not that God isn’t responding so much as we have turned a blind eye and ear to his voice. And that makes me very sad.

Lost

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How did I get here?

I walked the path laid out before me as a child.

I played by all the rules that society told me to follow.

Wait until you see your pot of gold they proclaimed.

They lied.

There is no pot of gold waiting, just another turn.

Turns that wind through birth and death and marriage and divorce and…passion?

Slowly over time, I try to walk back but I just can’t remember how I got here.

Where am I?

What have I become?

What do I do now with what is left of my life?

I am lost.

Struggle

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I am chugging along and making progress when…

The history of our people catches up to me and…

I stop, struggling to find the will to move forward and achieve what should rightfully be mine?

Where I live the chairs are being rearranged.

Changed before my eyes like a flock of birds taking off for flight…

And the government tells me I am in a better place and tells me that the money is pouring in and that jobs are falling like manna from heaven to hide the…

Struggle

I long to be free, long to feel safe

Long for wealth that is continual, gently, ever so slowly given to others.

Am I never to get ahead?

Am I always to smile and nod like everything is alright to keep the powers at bay?

No.

Today I will don a skin cocoa brown around a broken soul.

I will struggle again.

Anger

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Ah, my friend.

The friend who pushes and prods to force out the emotions I choose to keep in.

The part of me that is forced to wear a smile because to not is threatening because of Black Skin.

The area of me that harbors the real me, protects the real me from harm.

How can I let go of you?

You have been more loyal to me than the country that everyday looks for the reason to…

Closer than the those who would rather that people of color just disappear like fog on a Monday morning.

Ah, anger, my friend.

Igbo Diet: Oha Soup

making oha soupRoughly 80% of Blacks brought over from Africa who came in through the Carolinas have ancestry going back to the Igbo in West Africa. This ethnic group currently resides in Nigeria. This group is very important to me because I have DNA linked to it. I have appended a recipe from this tribe courtesy of allnigerianfoods.com. Enjoy.

The Ingredients For Oha Soup

Serving (6×2)
Oha leaves (as required)
Cocoa yam (see the video below)(about 15 to 20 medium sizes)
2kg Meat of choice (chicken, assorted, beef, goat meat, turkey)
600g Dry fish or mangala
Maggi (seasoning) 2 to 4 cubes
Ground crayfish (1 cups)
A handful of Uziza leaves (optional)
1 big Stock fish head
Palm oil 200-250ml
3-4 tablespoons of ofor or achi (as alternative thickener)
Ogiri (local ingredients)
salt and pepper to taste

Whenever I am making soups with cocoa yam, I chose to buy a small quantity of ofor or achi to supplement insufficiency (just in case) maybe about 1 or 2 tablespoons

How To Prepare Oha (ora) Nigerian Soup

Time: About seventy minutes

Wash the cocoa yam with just water and start cooking, cook until it is soft (you can check with your fingers), then peel off the outer back and pound with a mortar and pestle, the normal traditional way. Grind crayfish and fresh pepper (I like to use fresh pepper for most Nigerian foods)

Pluck off the Uha leaves from the stem and slice with a kitchen knife, I like to shred the leaves with my fingers the exact way I learned from my mother (You will find how this is done from the video below, this method will ensure that the leaves are not shredded to tiny bits).

In case you want to slice with a kitchen knife just to ease up the process be sure not to slice into very tiny bits. See the uha soup image above

Parboil meat with the necessary ingredients, allow to cook for ten to fifteen minutes before adding the hot-water-washed dry fish and, (we use hot water to soak and wash dry fish/stock fish just to make sure the accompanying sand is washed off). Add the stock fish and cook until it is tender,

Add more water then add red oil (palm oil), ground crayfish, maggi, salt and pepper to taste. Stir and allow boiling. At this point it should give a good soupy taste (even though it would be watery)

Then add the pounded cocoa yam as you can find in the video below (at this point you can add the ground egusi if you choose to make oha soup with egusi, which is also a very tasty recipe. Remember I told you that either egusi, achi or cocoa yam can serve as the thickener for this popular Igbo soup).
Boiling oha soup
Also add the ogiri at this point.

Stir; allow to dissolve before adding the sliced uziza leaves then uha leave should follow after a minute. Stir and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes and you just made a very delicious oha soup (ofe ora).
making oha soup
Serve with eba, fufu or pounded yam.

Bread Dough Cake

From A Domestic Cookbook

  • One pint light bread dough
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • Dried fruit or Carraway seeds

Stir well place in well buttered baking pan. Let rise, and bake in moderate heat.

Older recipes are very tough to follow even if published as they lack the details of modern recipes.

Gardening made Simple…

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4 Step to Success

Gardening is a great way to add fresh veggies and fruit to your diet. But most people think they can grow anything. EVERYONE can grow something. I am going to give you my foolproof method. This will work in pots as well so my apartment dwellers you too can have fresh food.

Step 1. Mark and dig out a 4 foot by 4 foot square plot in sunny to mixed shade.

That is it. The rule of thumb here is to not garden more than you can handle. Most people have jobs, families, social lives. This is meant to be fun not a chore. Remember there are stores and markets for a reason. So mark out at 4×4 area and remove the sod. Dig down 6 to 19 inches and turnover.

Step 2. Add the shit that makes Plants grow

OK now go to the garden center or hardware store. Get one 10 pound bag or peat moss, one block of Promix (it must be Promix and buy a full block, not a bag), and one 20 pound bag of manure (doesn’t matter what you use, I prefer cow dung). Using a tarp and a shovel remove the dirt you just turned from the garden and add the bags of amendments. This is the key, you have to mix everything thoroughly. Add the soil back to the garden and water. Cover and leave for 48 hours. (Hell leave until next weekend the key thing is to let it settle and get rid of air pockets that rot roots)

Step 3. Buy plants or seeds

Before we begin I want to stress something here. Plant what you will eat. There is nothing wrong with planting a little that goes to folks who like a plant but don’t have time to garden. I have a friend who loves my zucchini, I hate it, I grow it for my friend. But friend if you hate salad, don’t grow it. I grew salad for years and years because it was “healthy”, but I rarely ate it. This year it will not be in my garden. Plant what you love to eat.

Remember those know it all’s who say don’t plant too close. Yeah, we are going to ignore them. We want density to keep the light and wind away from the soil which means you water less. If you are growing a larger plant like a pumpkin (And why would you fucking do this its 4×4 you idiot) then you need space. (and a full-size garden dumb ass) The plants will self-select and the stronger plants will thrive and the weak plants will die.

But seed or plants? Depends on your level of commitments. For plants like lettuce or carrots sow a thick seedbed. Literally overseed the part of the garden you want that plant in, water cover with some straw and wait. Now I live in Minnesota. Our growing season is short. I grew tired of failed starts indoors so I buy the vast majority of my plants as starts or in the case of tomatoes, large bushes. My preference is more practical than anything else. I want to maximize the amount of food. And this method does just that.

Secret: Sometimes I let tomatoes drop in the fall and rot. I get FREE repeat plants that are more tolerant to my climate!

Step 4. Only water when the leaves look limp!

Most gardener’s fail because of  overwatering. Period. Don’t over water plants. Think of the meadows. God doesn’t send down rain every evening at 6pm. Plants that get frequent watering have thin stems and very shallow root systems that rot easily. Water once a week. Don’t drench, just a good drink.

Leave the plants alone!!

Leave them the fuck alone…OK… you are not helping them by poking at them. Unless you are checking for disease. (and you should) or harvesting leaves them alone. Just enjoy watching them grow. If you need to eat fresh veggies quick use the markets or buy plants versus seeds.

Gardening should be a low maintenance hobby that is really fun. This plan will rock your garden and impress friends and family!

Living the Story: Okra and Tomatoes

Okra and tomatoes go very very well together. Okra by itself tends to be a fibrous vegetable that people mostly fry to avoid cleaning them appropriately. This is sad because Okra is a thickener that can be added to stew and vegetable dishes to thicken the gravy.  If you have a stew that more resemble a soup add Okra and the consistency will return.

1/4 lb Double Smoked Bacon

1 medium White Onion rough chopped

4 cloves garlic rough diced

6 med sized tomatoes blanched. Do NOT use canned.

1/2 cup chicken stock but don’t expect to use much

1 to 1 1/2 cups FRESH okra. Don’t use canned or frozen.

Seasoning

Sea Salt and Coarse Ground Pepper

Saute the bacon set aside

Add Garlic and Onion to the pan saute until golden brown set aside

Drain Oil and add tomatoes let soften, then add stock, season and let simmer for 15 minutes

Clean and cut the Okra. OK Okra is fibrous which makes it an excellent thickener. You have to remove the fuzzy stuff in the middle. Rough chop and add to pan

Cook another 20-30 thirty minutes

Remove from heat let stand 5 minutes and serve.

Ribs as in @#$$% Good

bbqRibs are the simplest meat to smoke. TV makes them way too complex. A good rack of ribs is easy to prepare.

Pone Daddy’s Ribs

Seasoning:

Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Salt, Pepper(Ground), in equal proportions with Cinnamon, and Chili Powder to taste.

2 Racks of Ribs

9 chunks of wood in equal proportions of Maple, Hickory,  and Oak

Brown Sugar

Butter

BBQ Sauce of your choice

  1. Don’t skimp on the ribs! You are going to be cooking these suckers for 6 hours at a low temperature. Now is not the time to buy the rack in the butcher’s bargain fridge. You want meaty ribs with marbling. Remember fat is your friend in moderation.
  2. This is not enough fat and not good for smoking.

raw rib

3. This is the right amount of fat and meat. You need substance to win at smoking.

4. Set the internal temperature of your smoker at 225 degrees. You will need an oven thermometer. Allow the smoker to get to temperature first. DO NOT OPEN!!

5. Ribs need chunks and for great ribs, a 3 chunk combo of Maple, Hickory, and Oak is the optimal blend. It will give a moderate smoking that will go through the meat and create that smoke ring that demonstrates the cooking process went well. Yet it will also give that nutty brown exterior as well. Put the wood in the tray. Better yet, use an old cast iron pan at the bottom. Also, include a baking pan with water filled to the brim. Water vapor helps the smoke to move through the pit efficiently.  Do not open or add meat until the heavy smoke has stopped and you have a nice clear smoke this is critical because using the heavy smoke can turn meat acrid unless you know how to use it.

6. Liberally season the ribs and then place the ribs on the racks in the smoker close it and leave it alone for the next 3 hours. Don’t peek! Don’t show off for your father in law! Just leave it alone.

7. At hour 3 quickly check the ribs and the temperature. Add additional chunks of would in the same formula and close it.

8. At hour 5.5 remove the ribs! Place them on foil, massage with butter (Not margarine!!), sprinkle with brown sugar, wrap them in the foil and replace in the smoker.

9. Smoke another 30- 45 minutes.

10. Remove the ribs from the smoker and the tin foil let them sit on a counter for 15-20 minutes at least. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!! You have already spent this much time why dry out your meat now by cutting it!

11. Optional: On a smoky grill finish the ribs by saucing with a shredded rag or a BBQ mop. No more than a minute or two to set the sauce.

EAT and Enjoy!!