which country cooks falafel best?

Freshly cooked falafel is among my most favorite of lunch foods…

It’s most likely that falafel did start in Egypt – one theory being that Coptic Christians created it about 1,000 years ago, another being that it goes back to the time of the pharaohs. In any case, the dish migrated to the Levant, to be consumed by Lebanese, Palestinians and Israelis – and all those countries have at some point claimed falafel as their national dish.

Arguments about origins aside, most people just want to eat the best falafel that can be found. Anissa Helou, the Middle East food expert and writer, tells me what to look out for. “They have to be very crisp on the outside, with a nice crust that is not too dark,” she says. “And – this is the art of proper frying – they should be crumbly and fluffy, without being too wet on the inside.” When it comes to consistency as well as flavour, the ingredients are key: Helou suggests a good mix would be chickpeas and fava beans, along with fresh coriander, leeks, garlic and spices, and a bit of bicarbonate of soda added at the end, so that the falafel balls puff up when fried. What is essential, though, is that they are served on the spot. As Young says: “It’s better to have people wait for the falafel, than to have the falafel wait for people.” Bear that in mind whenever you’re remotely tempted by some pre-packaged, refrigerated fried bean balls masquerading as this champion Middle Eastern food.

(click here to continue reading The falafel battle: which country cooks it best? | Life and style | The Guardian.)

garbanzo bean flour

i emailed my mom, she reports

The very best I have ever had were in Toronto on Yonge St. The owners were Lebanese and they only used chick peas that they soaked and ground. Lots of spices, freshly fried for each ordered sandwich. And the sauce had cucumber, sesame paste, yogurt, lots of garlic and parsley. Also the pita were fresh every day. MMMMMMMMM.

The pavement was alive with the sound of music
The pavement was alive with the sound of music, Amsterdam train station.

I remember eating falafel in some public square in Amsterdam on my Italian sojourn in 1993-94. We were nearing the end of our trip, and our funds were getting low, for I think 5 guilders you’d get three falafel balls, pita, and all the cucumber, tomato, lettuce, tahini, humus, hot peppers, pickles, beets and yogurt sauce you could fit. Lebanese probably, but not sure, fried up as you waited. Delicious. I think we ate it 4 or 5 times for lunch.

And a recipe for making your own:

Moustafa Elrefaey’s Egyptian broad bean falafel (Serves 4)

500g dried broad beans, soaked 40g Spanish onions 12g garlic 35g parsley 35g fresh coriander 7g salt 2g ground cumin

Thoroughly wash the beans in a bowl under running water then cover and soak them (unrefrigerated) for at least 8 hours.

Wash and drain the beans well.

In a food processor, puree the vegetables and herbs for 2 mins then add the soaked beans and keep it running for 10 mins. Add the salt and cumin until the mix is slightly foamy.

Heat the oil to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and, if you have one, use an ice-cream scoop to form a ball from the puree. Press it between your fingers into a patty and fry it for 2 mins on each side.

(click here to continue reading The falafel battle: which country cooks it best? | Life and style | The Guardian.)

The Restorative Vieux Carré via Mario Batali

Vieux Carré with Armagnac and Few Rye

Vieux Carré with Armagnac and Few Rye

I don’t know much about the chef Mario Batali. I saw him interviewed on a Daily Show with Jon Stewart  a while back, I know he’s opening a place in River North called Eataly, I recall he was victorious in a Twitter war with some anti-abortion zealots protesting his donation to a Texas fundraiser, and I know he likes orange crocs. However, I have been reading, and enjoying, his weekly cocktail suggestions in the New York Times Magazine, such as his version of one of my favorite ways to drink cognac (or related liquors).

Mr. Batali wrote:

Last month, I was invigorated by an 11 a.m. restorative Vieux Carré at the Carousel Bar in New Orleans. Fill a shaker with ice and add a dash each of Benedictine, Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters and a shot each of rye whiskey, cognac and Punt e Mes. Shake, then strain into a glass filled with fresh ice and garnish with an Amarena cherry — then let the late-morning voodoo do its work.

(click here to continue reading Hungry, Hungry Voters – NYTimes.com.)

I’ve never had Punt e Mes, nor do I have Amarena cherries, so here was my version – for the afternoon, 11 A.M. is a little early for me.

  • spoonful of Bénédictine D.O.M.
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • equal parts of Few Rye Whiskey, Marie Duffau Napoleon Bas Armagnac (You could use Cognac, or any good brandy, your choice) and sweet vermouth (Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry Rouge).

Stir vigorously over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon twist – making sure to get a good bit of lemon on the glass edge.

Imbibe. Try to have only one. I had two.

Sampling Sazeracs

Absinthe Sazerac
Absinthe Sazerac – America’s First Cocktail

I had a first attempt at making a Sazerac at home the other day, but wasn’t quite satisfied: perhaps I used too much Absinthe. Will try again as soon as I am able…

This variant ran in the NYT in 2009


  • 1/4 ounce (1 1/2 teaspoons) Herbsaint, absinthe or pastis
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) good rye whiskey
  • 1 lemon, unwaxed and scrubbed.

1. Place a short rocks glass in the freezer to chill.

2. Add the Herbsaint to the chilled glass, swirl it around to give the inside of the glass a thin coating, then discard the excess.

3. Place the sugar in the bottom of a mixing glass with a few drops of water. With a wooden spoon or cocktail muddler, muddle down the sugar, add the bitters and keep muddling. Add the whiskey and stir well, until the sugar is dissolved. Add enough ice to fill the mixing glass three-quarters full and stir for about 20 seconds.

4. Strain into the coated glass and, using a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, slice off a piece of lemon peel. Squeeze the peel’s oils over the drink and either discard the peel or drop it in the drink.

Adapted from “Artisanal Cocktails” by Scott Beattie.

(click here to continue reading Tales of a Cocktail | Sampling Sazeracs in New Orleans – NYTimes.com.)


Recipe For Chicken Soup With Matzo Balls

Whole Wheat Matzo balls in soup

Since you asked1, I’ll bore you with my matzo ball soup recipe. I’ve been cooking long enough that some of this is done by instinct, and may not be precise, but it seems close enough to what I did, and will yield a big pot of delicious soup to cure your winter blues…

Matzo Balls
3 eggs

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of baking powder (non-aluminum)

1 cup of matzo meal (used that organic whole wheat matzo I found at Whole Foods)

1/2 cup of water

minced dill

minced parsley

minced chives

  1. mix eggs, oil, baking powder
  2. add matzo meal, water, spices, mix well
  3. put covered in the refrigerator

Matzot Aviv from Benei Brak

Chicken Soup

meanwhile, make chicken soup. I used half a whole roasted chicken, including neck bone, simmered it all for nearly an hour, took out white meat (so it doesn’t get too dried out), left dark meat (wings, neck, etc.), and added vegetables. You may have other things you would add instead, this is what I used.

  1. 5 carrots (roughly chopped)
  2. 3 parsnips
  3. 3 stalks celery (roughly chopped)
  4. cup of minced shallot
  5. 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  6. 1 portobello mushroom (roughly chopped)
  7. 1 fennel bulb (sliced thin)
  8. salt/pepper/whatever else

Final Steps

Take out the matzo meal, wet hands, and form into balls. Key discovery: don’t pack the matzo balls as if you were making a meatball, barely use any force at all, just barely round them into shape. They won’t look like golf balls, but they will be much lighter.

Drop in a pot of salted, boiling water (as seen above), and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove, add to your soup and cook for another 5-10 minutes in the chicken soup.

Yummy. Feeds a bunch of people.

  1. well, you might not have, but someone did []

Roger Ebert Is Still Cooking

Kim Severson spent some time with Roger and Chaz, cooking, and talking, and discussing The Pot, Roger Ebert’s forthcoming book.

But soon, in a flurry of hand gestures, glances, scribbles in a little spiral notebook and patient asides from his wife, Chaz, he’s having a conversation. You’re laughing. And you get to ask the question: How bad do you miss eating?

“For a few days I could think of nothing but root beer,” he said about the weeks after the surgery that removed much of his jaw. He passed through a candy fixation, romancing Red Hots and licorice-flavored Chuckles.

And he circled back time and again to a favorite meal served at Steak ’n Shake, an old-fashioned hamburger chain beloved in his part of the Midwest. When he wrote about it last year on his blog, Roger Ebert’s Journal, people saw that the legendary movie critic for The Chicago Sun-Times could also knock out some great food writing.

“A downstate Illinois boy loves the Steak ’n Shake as a Puerto Rican loves rice and beans, an Egyptian loves falafel, a Brit loves banger and mash, an Indian loves tikki ki chaat, a Swede loves herring, a Finn loves reindeer jerky, and a Canadian loves bran muffins,” he wrote. “These matters do not involve taste. They involve a deep-seated conviction that a food is absolutely right, and always has been, and always will be.”

(click to continue reading Roger Ebert on Food – Still Cooking – NYTimes.com.)

Pot O Rice

 I ordered a copy, why not? I have a rice cooker, though I don’t make plain rice in it, only a couple of dishes of my own creation.1 Plain rice is too simple to require a different appliance, and to be honest, I don’t have the counter space for appliances. However, Ebert is a pretty good writer, and that’s enough for me.

  1. some sort of chile thing, and a vegetable curry of some sort []

For Sushi at Home, Skip the Fish

Can’t go wrong with making your own sushi, and it isn’t that difficult, especially if you skip using fish, and concentrate upon utilizing other yummy foods: avocado, peppers, cilantro, lox, whatever sounds good.

Philly Roll

Mark Bittman writes:

The Minimalist – For Sushi at Home, Skip the Fish – NYTimes.com: “The rice-making is easy, and far from mysterious. You need good short-grain white rice (you can use brown rice, of course, but it’s not the same thing), rice vinegar, sugar, salt and kelp (or konbu, a kind of seaweed). Some sake is nice, but it is not essential. You blend the vinegar, sugar, salt and kelp, remove the kelp, then let the sweetened vinegar (now called awasezu) sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator for as long as you like. (I haven’t tested to see how long it will last, but several days are certainly fine.)

You cook the rice, adding a little sake to the water if you have it; the proportions are about one-and-a-half parts water to one part rice, though you can get away with less water if you have a rice cooker.

When the rice is done, you let it sit for 15 minutes or so, then you fold in about a half-cup of awasezu for every two cups of cooked rice. You do this gently, so as not to crush the rice, but it’s not as painstaking a process as it’s sometimes made out to be.”


I’ll let you know how my experiment goes, or read more about Mark Bittman’s experience

Forming the rice looks easier than it is. The rice is very sticky, so you need to wet your hands between forming each piece. (You’ll note that most sushi chefs do this, too.) Mr. Ueki proceeded to rip off shapes of all kinds: hand-molded nigiri, mat-rolled maki, a kind of “box” sushi called oshigata that is popular in Osaka. (I bought a gadget for making oshigata for $5 online; it works), and a variety of less-formally molded shapes. These, when I got home and began to work myself, turned out to be my favorite. Even a nicely formed nigiri sushi can take some time.

Once I got the hang of it, I was producing hand rolls in a variety of forms without much trouble. Ultimately I found three favorites. First is a quarter sheet of nori, smeared lightly with rice (about a tablespoon, not much more) and topped with a couple of bits of whatever — say umeboshi and tofu — then rolled, cigar- or cone-like. Next is a small rounded pile of rice (again, about a tablespoon) with, say, a pile of chopped seasoned greens on top and a thin band of nori wrapped around its side (like the popular sushi made with uni). Finally, a small pile of rice, crudely shaped but vaguely nigiri-ish, with something on top — prosciutto turned out to be my favorite. (I never said these were vegan.) All of these were crude yet recognizable forms of shapes that Mr. Ueki had demonstrated.

Reading Around on February 3rd through February 6th

A few interesting links collected February 3rd through February 6th:

  • Flash Crash! – If you are reading this from a browser using Adobe’s Flash Player plug-in (i.e., if you see a blue rectangle below), it will probably crash within the next few seconds. 🙁
  • If Global Warming Is Real Then Why Is It Cold – editorial cartoonists are not scientists, in other words
  • Spirits: Long-lost Gin Buck gets most bang from ginger beer – The gin buck? Three ingredients, no matter the variation. You can try the “modern” version: gin, lemon juice and ginger ale, which gives the drink a mellow lemon-lime flavor. Or, substitute the lemon with a half-lime squeeze, rimming the glass with the pulp to make it extra tart. Either way, it’s fizzier than a gin gimlet, and sweeter that a straight gin and tonic.

    But to really do it right, you’ll want to go retro and spice it up with ginger beer, which, unlike today’s ginger ale, actually tastes of ginger. That’s how they made it in the old days: gin, authentic ginger ale (that actually tasted like ginger, so to get that flavor today, we’d use ginger beer) and lime juice, over ice cubes. The ginger and juniper flavors interact intensely.

    Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08220/902258-389.stm#ixzz0eXG3Ki1I

Old Fashioned Welcomed Comeback

If I’m going to drink bourbon1, a deftly-created Old Fashioned is probably my favorite way to drink it.

Cruising with Rae Bourbon - Around the world in 80 Ways

That’s when I come back to the Old Fashioned. As prone to becoming the subject of polemic, revisionism and endlessly repetitive arguments as any other cocktail — barring perhaps the cult-like madness that often accompanies the martini — when the computer is turned off and I place the whiskey and bitters on the kitchen counter, ultimately it’s just a drink. Not that I don’t recall the nagging questions as I mix, nor the ways I’m sure the drink would annoy partisans at polar ends of the mixological range: first a dab of sugar syrup in the bottom of a glass followed by a couple of dashes of bitters (hardcore Old Fashionedistas mandate the physical crushing of a sugar cube, possibly with a swath of orange or lemon peel); then a measured dose of bourbon or rye whiskey, depending on the mood; a quick stir for everyone to get acquainted in the glass, followed by large chunks of ice and, for that inner five-year-old with maturing tastes, a single bottled Italian wild cherry for color, rinsed of any cloying syrup

[Click to continue reading Are You Friends, After an Old Fashioned? – Proof Blog – NYTimes.com]

Truth Drug

Personally, I skip the cherry, and usually skip most of the sugar syrup too.

Jonathan Miles adds, in a requiem for the decade just over:

No, the real story was in rediscovered in drinks like the aviation cocktail, a sublimely floral combination of gin and maraschino liqueur (and later, as cocktail historians dug deeper into its origins, the violet-flavored crème de violette) that was a Web sensation before bars like Milk & Honey started featuring it on cocktail lists.

Or the old-fashioned, once dowdy but reinvigorated by bartenders like Don Lee, who recast it as the celery and nori old-fashioned at Momofuku Ssam Bar, and Phil Ward of Death & Company, whose Oaxaca old-fashioned — with tequila standing in for whiskey — proved how versatile a spare, 200-year-old formula could be.

These were artisanal drinks with history and gravitas and a contrapuntal range of flavors — sweet, sour, savory, bitter — that hadn’t been balanced in generations. They’re representative of a lost American art — the art of the cocktail, as practiced by pre-Prohibition bartenders — that, after the ’00s, can no longer be called lost.

[Click to continue reading Shaken and Stirred – The Last Decade Was Good for Cocktails, Anyway – NYTimes.com]

“Mad Men: Season 3 [Blu-ray]” (Matthew Weiner)

You’d have to add Mad Men chic to the equation too: the Old Fashioned was Don Draper’s signature drink, the drink that won him Connie Hilton’s ad business, as described amusingly at A Dash of Bitters.

It happens to all of us, eventually. You’ll be at the country club, at a party hosted by your boss, who’s in the midst of a humiliating midlife crisis. He’ll be the fool in blackface, serenading his new bride, who’s 30 years his junior. Disgusted, you’ll walk away and seek out another old-fashioned. Alas, no bartender will be on duty, and the famous hotelier who’s rooting around behind the bar will declare that he’s on the same mission as you, but to his dismay, there’s no bourbon.

With a James Bondian flourish, you’ll leap over the bar, rummage a bit, and find some good Old Overholt. You’ll take a couple of glasses, drop a sugar cube in each, and dash in some bitters. While the bitters soften the sugar cubes, you’ll find any old tall glass behind the bar and fill it about halfway with ice. Free-pour the rye over that, open a bottle of soda water, and splash some in. Muddle the sugar cubes. Roughly thrust a barspoon up and down in the tall glass three times, and then pour the drink, ice included, half into one glass and half into the other.

You’ll drop a wedge of lemon into each glass, then, but you won’t bother stirring the sugar into the drink, probably because you’ll be making out with someone else’s spouse by the time you’d reach the sugary sludge. And you’ll have yourself an old-fashioned rye cocktail. Hand one off to the hotelier and drink up.

[Click to continue reading Don Draper’s no-nonsense old-fashioned for two — A Dash of Bitters]

Indeed. No precision required, just American can-do-ism.

  1. not in my top ten of alcoholic drinks, well, maybe number 10 or 11. []

Reading Around on December 18th through December 23rd

A few interesting links collected December 18th through December 23rd:

Reading Around on October 4th

Some additional reading October 4th from 10:05 to 12:48:

Red red red

Red red red
Red red red, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

CameraBag treatment of last week’s great stuffed and simmered red pepper experiment.

came out delicious, despite this photo looking (intentionally) sinister

I used what turned out to be a variation of this Epicurious recipe, with able assistance and advice from my mom1 via email. If you click the link below you’ll see the original ingredients and technique, these are the ingredients I used:

2 large (8-ounce) red bell peppers
other peppers, pimento, whatever
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2/3 cup cooked brown basmati rice, cooled
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 1/2 cups tomato sauce, partially handmade from some roma tomatoes, and partially from a a jar of strained tomatoes
1 1/4 pounds lean ground lamb
a dash of cayenne
three diced carrots
a diced fennel bulb
seems like some other vegetable, celery, maybe?
1 large egg

Cut off top 1/2 inch of peppers and reserve. Scoop seeds from cavities. Discard stems and chop pepper tops. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground lamb2, onions, garlic, carrot, fennel, and chopped pepper pieces. Sauté until onions soften, about 8 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in rice, parsley, cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper, and allspice. Cool 10 minutes. Mix in 1/2 cup tomato sauce, and egg.

Fill pepper cavities with mixture. Stand filled peppers in single layer in heavy large pot. Pour remaining 2 cups tomato sauce around peppers. Bring sauce to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot and simmer 20 minutes. Spoon some sauce over each pepper. Cover; cook until peppers are tender and filling is cooked through and firm, about 20 minutes

[Click to continue reading Stuffed Red Bell Peppers Recipe at Epicurious.com]

My mom suggested two other variations which I would follow in a future preparation: slightly char the peppers before stuffing, and add a handful of pine nuts to the stuffing.

  1. she has a freaking Facebook account!! []
  2. or ground beef, whatever, actually I’ve made it both ways []

Reading Around on July 2nd through July 3rd

A few interesting links collected July 2nd through July 3rd:

  • Dovecote Records Limewire is a bunch of hypocrites Gets mad at Us for stealing

    Woman: “Who the FUCK are you? And why are you eating our pizza?”

    Kosuke: Well our friend came in and told us there was free pizza at the bar. We are. So. Sorry. It was a misunderstanding.

    Woman: (with unbridled entitlement) This is a company party our CEO is here and you STOLE our pizza. Are you from out of town? Because let me tell you, NOTHING is free in New York City. Nothing is free… well maybe except for the condoms in Times Square.

    Paul and Kosuke continue apologizing. They offer to pay for the two slices.

    Woman: (didactically snobbish) We don’t want your money. No. Enjoy the pizza, but you can’t steal other people’s things. You can’t take what’s not yours

    Kosuke: What company do you guys work for?

    Woman: We work for Limewire.

    <Long pause> Kosuke’s eyes go wide. Anger festers in his pupils.

    Kosuke: Oh ok. Well I work at a record label so fuck you. You’ve stolen from us enough. (Bites pizza. Begins to walk away.)

  • That’s Right! I Said It’s Caipirinha Time! on Flickr – Photo Sharing! – Every time I look at Friendly Joe’s awesome caipirinha making instructional Flickr page, I get a mighty, mighty thirst.

    “Caipirinhas are the Brazilian national drink. That said, we won’t conject on the overall condition of the Brazilian populace at large. No worries- They’re refreshing and the weather’s warmin’ up –
    Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll be ready to samba in your neighbor’s flower beds in no time… “

  • Tour № 2 – Ogden Avenue Extension | Forgotten Chicago

    “Left: A brief aside, in case you forgot who built this damn city!

    Right: Remnants of Ogden’s bridge supports are still visible south of Division Street.”

  • Saddam And Goldman Sachs: Who Is The Student, And Who Is The Master?

    The funniest part is, you could legitimately argue that Goldman Sachs has killed more people than Saddam.

Cachaca, national drink of Brazil, is fire in a glass

I’ve only had caipirinhas twice, but I loved them (though, my head didn’t love me the next day). Unfortunately, I have yet to make a trek to Brazil, though it is on my short list.

Went to Brazil

“A pair of them will make you leap like [a] Playtex Girdle-gal,” wrote Charles H. Baker Jr. in his eccentric 1951 work, “The South American Gentleman’s Companion.”

His racy description captures the effect of cachaca (ka-SHA-sa), the Brazilian national drink with a sweet, fiery flavor that can pack a macho punch. Though often compared to a young white rum (both spring from sugar cane, though rum is made from molasses, a byproduct of refining cane into sugar, and cachaca is distilled from fermented cane), this spirit has a more devilish reputation all its own.

Indeed, though exported brands are roughly 80 proof, more potent bottles are the norm in Brazil. The spirit is popping up more and more here, with a movement toward higher-quality, more refined versions.

“The cheap stuff was all that was available for a long time in the United States,” says Joshua Pearson, beverage director of Sepia restaurant. “We’re definitely seeing more artisan products. … It becomes a nice spirit you can drink without adding tons of fruit juice or sugar.”

The most famous cachaca cocktail is the caipirinha (kai-pee-REEN-ya), a refreshing combo of cachaca, sugar and lime juice served on the rocks. Aged gold cachaca is often served neat.

[Click to read more Cachaca, Brazil’s national drink, is fire in a glass — Bill Daley, chicagotribune.com]

Wonder where to get the best cachaca in Chicago? Sams, perhaps?

Reading Around on July 2nd

Some additional reading July 2nd from 13:49 to 19:05:

  • Travel With Your Mind: Sky Saxon Remembered – Sky Saxon, lead singer with 60s garage punk legends the Seeds, died on the morning of June 25, 2009 (or as his official web site put it, he “passed over to be with YaHoWha”); as it happened, he died the same day as both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, ensuring that the entertainment press, who might have been expected to treat his passing like a one-line filler item, didn’t even give it that much attention. But Saxon hadn’t been a celebrity in the traditional sense for a very long time. Sky may have been a rock star for about two years on the strength of the singles “Pushin’ Too Hard” and “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine,” but after those twenty-four months as a bargain-basement Mick Jagger, he evolved into Flower Power’s Last Man Standing, a guy who let his freak flag fly with a wild-eyed sincerity that made most of his peers from the Sunset Strip scene look like weekenders, and transformed his story into something far more interesting than the typical two-hit wonder and cult hero.
  • The Perfect Burger and All Its Parts – NYTimes.com – While some chefs have groused quietly about the insatiable demand for burgers, most are philosophical. “All chefs can be frustrated by the buying public sometimes,” said Clark Frasier, a chef with restaurants in Massachusetts and Maine. “In this economy I’m happy to sell anything they want to eat.”

    All this high-powered attention has produced some new ways of thinking about and cooking burgers. Interviews with 30 chefs provided dozens of lessons for the home cook that aren’t terribly difficult and don’t cost much money. And it all yielded the ideal burger.

  • Daily Kos: How a Kos diarist helped spark McCain-Palin infighting – Schmidt put the matter to rest with an breathtaking reply to Palin:

    "Secession," he wrote. "It is their entire reason for existence. A cursory examination of the website shows that the party exists for the purpose of seceding from the union. That is the stated goal on the front page of the web site. Our records indicate that todd was a member for seven years. If this is incorrect then we need to understand the discrepancy. The statement you are suggesting be released would be innaccurate. The innaccuracy would bring greater media attention to this matter and be a distraction. According to your staff there have been no media inquiries into this and you received no questions about it during your interviews. If you are asked about it you should smile and say many alaskans who love their country join the party because it speeks to a tradition of political independence. Todd loves his country

Reading Around on April 17th through April 24th

A few interesting links collected April 17th through April 24th:

  • FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right: Messing with Texas – “What Texas could choose to do, however, is to divide itself up into as many as five states, a privilege given to it as a condition of its annexation to the Union in 1845. What would Texas look like if it chose to do this? Would dividing a large, red state into five smaller, reddish states benefit Republicans in the Senate? In the Electoral College?The answers are not so clear. But first things first, we need to come up with a logical way to divde Texas into five parts.”
  • Fritinancy: Ms. Dowd Interviews the Inventor of the Telephone – MoDo “sat down with Mr. Bell, 39, and his assistant Thomas Watson, 22, and asked them to explain why they shouldn’t be condemned to a slow, painful death.

    ME: The telephone seems like letter-writing without the paper and pen. Is there any message that can’t wait for a passenger pigeon?

    BELL: Possibly the message I’d like to deliver to you right now.”

  • Gapers Block : Drive-Thru : Chicago Food – Wait, No Need to Soak Those Beans – “One revelation, to me, was the idea that beans need not be soaked before cooking–provided that they are cooked slowly for a long time. In a recipe called Gloria’s Pork Ribs and Red Beans, the red beans are rinsed, and are thrown right into the pot. The beans slowly rehydrate as they cook with the other ingredients, for about 2 hours.

    This recipe looks quite tasty: I’m making a variant as soon as I can get into my kitchen.