Thursday, October 29, 2009

BB’s Delicious Frickin Chickin Tortilla Soup

BB’s Delicious Frickin Chickin Tortilla Soup


I’m making a great big pot and I’m listing the ingredients, but not the quantities, for the most part (I don’t roll like that and can’t follow the rules). Adjust the quantities of each to suit your tastes. No one said it was going to be easy, but you will figure it out.

Small pot
Chicken breast – deboned

Big pot
Rotel™ tomatoes
Real limes or juice
Chopped green chilies
Chicken stock or broth
Green onions
Cilantro – fresh
Corn Oil – use more than you think you should
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
Golden hominy
Black olives - small and pitted

Seasonings
Tony Chachere’s™ or Zatarain’s™ Creole seasoning
Black pepper
Salt – Coarse if you have it
Sriracha sauce - to taste

Sides
Tortilla chips
Shredded cheese
Avocado


Get a monster pot if you are going to make a lot and believe me, you should. People will want seconds and A few will want thirds, plus it freezes well. Finely chop the green onions and the cilantro and throw it in the pot.

Big pot: Put in all the ingredients and start cooking it down.


Small pot: Boil, yes boil the chicken and sprinkle the Creole seasoning on it heavily. You can’t over-season it, so dump some in there. When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, put it on a cutting board and using a big sharp knife like the one in the photo, chop it up and dump it in the soup pot.


Notes: Use a LOT of lime juice, like 4 ounces and in a big pot of soup like I made, use 2 CUPS of corn oil. It sounds like a lot and it is, but you won’t notice it. Sriracha sauce has a dynamite flavor, but is hotter than Hades if you get too much, so season to taste. Last, do NOT omit the garbanzos or the hominy. You will not notice it is in there, but the absence of it affects the final flavor and the texture is very pleasing to the palate. Enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weighing-In on legalizing Pot

The unwinnable war on marijuana usage may finally be coming to an end. As it stands, smoking, growing or possessing marijuana in any quantity is a federal crime and has imprisoned millions of people, whose only crime is smoking the weed; unless you add growing, transporting or buying the stuff to the list of crimes.


In my younger years I smoked a lot of pot - a lot. I’m not proud of that fact, but I chalk it up as a learning experience. I haven’t had a joint since 1975 and even if it is legalized, I will not smoke it again. It made me lazy and fuzzy-headed, not to mention I lost all motivation and was hungry all the time. 

Now, with that out of the way, I want to make a few points and those who have used Mary Jane can attest my points are valid. If you have never smoked “dope”, as it was at one time commonly referred to, then get a paper and pencil, as I am going to enlighten you.

Dope of any kind comes into our country by invitation. Invitation, not by invasion. Back when I was actively smoking the stuff, my friends and I were perfectly content to burn the offending weed only and would only resort to harder drugs when pot became scarce. It was the early 70’s and getting high was trendy and cool. We wanted to be cool and get high. Many of us have moved on and doping is not in our plans.

Drug cartels have choices on what they smuggle into our country. They can bring in 100 kilos of cocaine weighing in at 220 pounds and it fit in a trunk. Any idea how big of a trunk they would have to have to bring in 100 kilos of marijuana? So, by cracking down on marijuana we basically narrow the choice of what the drug cartels will send in. They will send in heroin and cocaine, etc., in lieu of bulkier marijuana and that is what will hit the streets, again by invitation.

People who are using marijuana are going to use it whether it’s legal or not, but instead of their money going towards our country’s economy and tax base or to drug lords will depend on it being legal, controlled and taxed or not. Personally, I think the medical marijuana issue is a no-brainer and should be embraced immediately by every state. If pot is a drug, what is the difference in it and any other prescription drug used to treat problems?

Fighting the war on drugs has become almost a bigger problem than the drugs themselves, with killings, violence and lawlessness associated with the trade. Crooked cops, lawmakers and politicians are being generated as fast as the dope and everyone is getting rich, especially lawyers. Dope is big business on both sides of the law, with people losing their houses, cars and property to the state for trafficking in pot.

If the United States Government would decriminalize marijuana entirely and allow the tobacco companies to package and sell marijuana cigarettes at, say, $20 per pack of twenty, with $15 tax (Est.) on each pack, we could balance the budget and have health care paid for in 5 years. Next, we would cripple the drug cartels and their network to the point of ruin. All of the money would funnel into the government coffers for a change instead of some Columbian or Mexican drug lord.

Another major consideration is quality and potency.  Tobacco companies could "market the brand" of each pack as to potency, allowing the consumer to know exactly what they were getting.  This is impossible on the street and leads to rip-offs, violence and death.  This is the way alcoholic beverages are marketed.  People do not buy 100% grain alcohol just because it is the strongest potency; they buy what they can safely ingest.

If a marijuana user were suspected of being high while operating a moving vehicle, it would be at the discrimination of the officer as whether they were intoxicated or not and if it were determined they were, they would be arrested for PI of DUI (Public intoxication or Driving under the influence).

Marijuana is here to stay. The government’s fruitless attempt to stop it has failed miserably, boosted organized crime and violence, turned many an honest public-servant into complicity and failed in almost every way. We must decriminalize and regulate it now. What do you think?

Read more here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Juvenile Cottonmouth in Baytown Texas

Our homestead in Baytown, Texas was pummeled with seven inches of rain the other day and as soon as it was over, we let our two doggies out to use the, well to relieve themselves.
I was picking up sticks on the ground and tossing them onto the compost pile when I heard my Bride shrieking. Running to her, she exclaimed that our 7-week-old Pom-Chi had walked very close to a coiled Cottonmouth.
Pointing it out, I, who will not tolerate or relocate a venomous snake, stabbed it once with a shovel, mortally wounding it. I almost always have one of my cameras handy, so I took this macro photograph to share.
As a note, any non-venomous snake is tolerated at my homestead albeit, I usually shoo them away. In the wild, I avoid all snakes and let them go about their business.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jumping spider photo in Baytown Texas

I saw this litty-bitty jumping spider on the wall at work just above a fire extinguisher and thought I would grab it's portrait and share.

I've noticed that even though there are an abundance of small jumping spiders, many of them are unique in the coloring, body build, size and appearance.

Macro photography is very facinating and enlightening and opens up a new world of observation.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

BB’s Super-Delicious Taco Soup

BB’s Super-Delicious Taco Soup


I’m going to list the ingredients only, because how much of each you decide to use is up to you, sorry.

In a large skillet, combine and cook until done:
Ground chuck
Taco Seasoning (only)
Diced garlic
Fresh yellow onion

In a large kettle, combine and cook until hot, then add ingredients above:
Pinto beans w/jalapeno
Kidney beans
Diced green chilis
Chicken broth
Rotel™ tomatoes
Canned golden hominy
Canned corn
Hunt’s fire roasted tomatoes
Black olives
Fresh zucchini
Fresh cilantro
Ranch Salad mix


-------------Top with:
Shredded cheese
Tortilla chips
Sour cream
Avocado


You just served up a steaming hot bowl of BB’s Super-Delicious Taco Soup!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Doctors report 400-pound boy to Nanny state workers

"An Orlando mother fears the state will take custody of her 13-year-old, 400-pound son after doctors called authorities about his condition. Doctors contacted the Department of Children and Families after Josiah Lewis missed a few appointments, saying his condition is life threatening. DCF officials said the agency has begun an investigation. The boy's mother, Brenda Lewis, said she's trying to help her son lose weight, but he refuses to take medicine and will not stop overeating" as reported by the Orland Sentinel.

I guess it's a crime now to over feed your kid in what’s left of this here free country. Of course the mother could beat the kid with a belt or cherry paddle like we were as kids and make him take his medicine and stop over-eating, but then the doctors would recommend the state take the kid from her.

I remember steering a tractor in Utah as a nine year old while my Dad and his friends threw hay bales onto the trailer I was dragging. I was pretty scared at first since I wasn't "properly trained", not to mention there was no seat belt and the tractor had a real loud exhaust that was probably damaging my sensitive hearing.
The men, being men without female supervision, were most likely using "swear words" or making references to things a kid shouldn't hear. I remember being real thirsty, but none of the adults offered me water. All of these things today would be viewed as grounds to give me away to the benevolence of someone other than my parents.

As a matter of record, I was as happy as a kid could be on that tractor and wishing I had a cigarette. You see, I had already been smoking every chance I could get for the last two years, but that is another story and a different time.

What in the world is next? A parent loses "custody" of their own kid because "Doctors" (anonymous Doctors?) decide they are over-feeding their kid, not that they are starving their child, but letting them eat too much. I can see it now - "Teachers report boy, whose parents force him to practice piano against his will, to state family workers" or "Doctors report 14 year old boy to state family workers whose parents made him clean out the garage, causing severe depression".

I’ll tell you what is sure to be on the horizon in this nanny state country of ours; a whole bunch of us could be arrested down the road simply because we are obese and pose a threat to the overall health of the country.

How about that batch of lard-coated and bacon-wrapped bologna?

"Police arrest family for refusing to eat their veggies and for failure to comply with a court order to put down the chicken-fried steak with cream gravy and suffered the public outcry to get with the new program (God bless our President) and find their beefy selves remanded to local pea farm for reconditioning and exercise"
We need to realize all this meddling in our everyday affairs by well-meaning professionals and politicians will lead to a never-ending and narrowing stranglehold on our liberties.

“Man arrested for smoking”. Poof. Or should I say Puff? Puff-there goes another liberty. Sure, you may not mind the banning of smoking for the good of the many and (big tree hug here), the Earth, but what about when someone decides what you are doing or how you are raising your kid should be stopped and they call CPS on you?

“Honest to gawd, Judge, that woman steadily smoked up the house with those filthy nasty cigs and her poor chirens had to sit there and huff it like tobacco-junkies”. Slam goes the gavel! “Take her away bailiff! Thirty years!”!

Pass me a *smoke and some bacon, will you friend?

*I do not and will not smoke again, but it isn’t against the law – yet and we need to be very careful what we rubber stamp as unacceptable behavior, as our own freedom and liberty may be the next thing we agree to outlaw.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

BB’s Jalapeno & Sausage Cornbread



BB’s Jalapeno & Sausage Cornbread

4 - 8.5 oz boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix
4 – Large eggs
1 1/3 cups sweet milk (your choice)
½ chopped yellow onion
1 – Large can of drained and chopped black olives
1 – Large can cream corn (yes, cream corn)
5 – Large chopped pickled jalapenos, seeds and all
1 pound maple flavored pan sausage of your choice
Liberal sprinkling of *Tony Chachere’s or Zatarain’s Creole seasoning (to taste)
1 – Good-sized package of your favorite shredded cheese (I use 4 cheese mix)

10X15X2 oven safe cooking dish
Large mixing bowl – you will need it.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook the sausage in a skillet with the onions until they are close to being done.  Mix all other ingredients together and add the cooked sausage and onions.  Stir it all up, but don’t get carried away.  Use Crisco to grease your pan so the cornbread doesn’t stick when you slice it.  Bake without covering at 400 degrees F. for 25 minutes and then start watching the top to make sure it doesn’t get too brown.  Use a table knife to determine if the center is cooked completely.  If it is clean, then the cornbread mix is done.  If the top is getting too brown, lower the heat to 350 and cook another 5 minutes until it is done.

If you like, add a pat of butter on top and enjoy.

* I don’t want to start a war here, but I can’t tell the difference and Zatarain’s is much cheaper at my local Food Town here in beautiful Baytown, Texas.

Cornbread on Foodista

Monday, October 12, 2009

Baytown Bert's Beans!


2-lbs pinto beans, 2 yellow onions, 2 cans stewed tomaters, 1 can Rotel, 1 cup jalapeno juice from a large can of pickled jalapenos, 1-lb bacon, 2-lbs cooked brisket and 1-lb hickory smoked link sausage. BB's Beans! Makin' cornbread and rice next and just thought I would take time to share the photo.

Pinto Beans on Foodista

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Barack Obama Awarded 10th Degree Black Belt!

Our American President has been awarded the coveted Nobel Peace Prize for bringing hope to the whole world and for something to do with nuclear arms non-proliferation. I think this is great! It really bolsters the credibility of the Nobel Peace Prize committee members and puts Barack Obama right up there with Teddy Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Ralph Bunche, Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King Jr., Henry Kissinger and Mother Teresa and shuts the mouth of all those who claim he hasn’t changed a thing in the last 10 months – plus, he got the gold in record book time, unlike the other historically accomplished folks I just mentioned.

He was in office 12 full days before he was nominated and we all remember how much he did the 11 days before that. My pointed head is still spinning.

It only took Mother Teresa all her life to get it and President Obama did it (snapping fingers) like that. Bully for him. This sets a real precedent too. Maybe a blogger can win it. I think I’ll change the name of this Blog to something like “I promise the moon and stars to promote world peace, at high altitudes and give everyone something cool”. That might do it. Of course, I won’t have to actually come across with anything concrete after I’m nominated and that’s the real beauty of it.

I’ll have to get a teleprompter too I guess, and maybe a couple of aggressive speechwriters with carnival hawking experience (it’s not easy to fool everyone, but I just have to fool roughly 50%). These guys will have to be good and if I can drag in an acting coach too, that'll top off my chances of winning. Then I could feign shock and awe when the awards start coming in.

Now, what I’m hoping to see next for our President is some more choice awards to beef up his resume. The President of the World Taekwondo Federation should ask the Kukkiwon to award Mr. Obama a 10th degree black belt for instance. What? They only go up to 9th degree? Not a problem, just create one. Our President deserves the highest-ranking black belt in the world. The world owes it to him and he would look awesome giving speeches and whatnot.

There has got to be an Academy Award in this thing somewhere, I can smell it. Let’s see…I got it - a Lifetime Achievement Oscar, or maybe Best Inspiring Performance! That second one might have to be invented, but those Academy folks did it for Al Gore and they sure as heck-fire can do it again. You can see that I’m all about change, can’t you?

What other awards are out there that people usually win because they work hard all their lives and deserve that we can give our President? He has after all, brought hope to people like Kenyans and stuff. It was looking like there were bunches of people in Afghanistan that were singing his laurels, but for some reason they are waffling, so no awards are coming from under that rock that I can see.

Personally, I think President Obama should win the Heisman Trophy – that’s a given I know, but not everyone agrees (they probably listen to Glenn Beck’s blather all the time).

There’s the Stanley Cup that’s up for grabs and let’s not shy away from a couple of Olympic Gold medals – say maybe 9 or 10 in the same sport? I hadn’t thought about the Kentucky Derby until just now, but it’s not out of reach and then, there is a Superbowl ring that would look real nice.

One way or the other, I’m happy for the man. Alfred Nobel would be proud.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Pay the same - Get less Baytown Sun? - Part 2

Back on September 22nd, I posted about how the management of the Baytown Sun decided to render the thrown subscription from 7 days to 5, but at the same price?  Their logic was they would up the amount of free info on their website and us subscribers would pick up the cost.  Well, here is my solution so we can be honorable on both ends of the hand shake.

Baytown Photographers Form a New Club


Monday night, October 5th, 2009, about thirty photographers gathered for the first meeting of the newly formed Baytown Photo Club to begin what is hoped by it’s organizer, Jane Lee, to be a long term sharing of photographic art and knowledge.

Jane Lee is a photo journalist and I’ve known of and read her well-written articles for quite some time, so when she asked me to join the club, I came along willingly.  I was pleased to see so many folks come out to learn and share, especially Nicki Evans, one of the areas well-published professional photographers.

I gave my brother TJ Bustem a call and he, being an avid photographer told me this was something he has wanted and needed to do for a long time, so he joined me.  We are both self-taught and the chance to learn from a pro is welcomed.


My fascination with photography began in 1968 when I met a fellow high school student who owned a premium range finder 35mm camera and educated me on the intricacies of shooting “photos”, as opposed to taking “pics”.

You see, photographers take photos, images or photographs and everyone else takes snapshots or pics.  Photographers do take snapshots, but when they are addressing their work, it is always images or photographs.

Anyway, it wasn’t until 1972 that I was able to afford (read serious sacrifice) my first real camera.  It was a revolutionary single lens reflex (SLR), aperture-preferred automatic 35mm – the Yashica Electro-AX.

What made this camera revolutionary was instead of all the dials being manually operated, this model would adjust the shutter speed while I, looking through the lens, adjusted the aperture (or depth of field).  It was fast – real fast with an almost unknown shutter speed of 1000th of a second, having a titanium shutter.  Many years later I bought a Nikon FE2, which came very close to approximating this early 70’s Electro-Ax, but with fewer features.

Now back in these days Kodachrome 25 (then ASA, but now ISO) slide film ruled the roost, but a person had to have excellent lighting to use it, so many of us used either Kodachrome or Ectachrome 64 and even the very fast Ectachrome 160.  Paul Simon sings about Kodachrome 25, even though he doesn’t say ASA-25, but 25 was king until June of this year when Kodak stopped its 70+ year run. Adios my old friend.

I went to the Air Force Base library with my new camera and read every page twice of the then cutting edge Time-Life photography series of something like 14 books.  I subscribed to a couple of photography magazines and with my usual abusive sense that I couldn’t learn fast enough, I inhaled the photographic art studies.

A few of the thousand photographs I took are shown here, while serving in Thailand:

Each time I let the shutter fall, it cost me about .25 and that was in 1972-74.  That was a tremendous amount of money and explains why composition, lighting and depth of field were so critical for film photographers, as opposed to digital.  To this day, I will stop, look and shoot once and walk on.

Time came and went, with various interruptions in my photo hobby, but over the last ten years, I’ve pursued it with a passion, especially when digital cameras became inexpensive enough to fire away with total abandon.  Now, it’s important to note that a good expensive camera does not a good photographer make. Trash in, trash out.  Do your homework folks.

However, the opposite is true.  Take a cheaper camera and a good photographer can make some very good quality photographs.  Some of the greatest photos of old were taken with simple (by today’s standards) range-finder cameras and old diehards wouldn’t use anything else, citing SLR camera buffs as amateurs.  This has shifted from range-finder to film SLR folks looking down their noses at DSLR people.

I’m a digital photographer who shoots primarily for the web, but I shoot in high-resolution and reduce the overall size to publish.  I use 3 cameras and they are all compact and I usually have one in my pocket at all times.  At the end of this article, I’ll list them.

Photographers love cameras and buy the best they can afford.  Some digital DSLR camera BODIES (read no lens) cost close to $3000.  Throw in a couple of lenses and you could buy a very good used car with that much money.  However, the modern point and shoot range finder cameras with 4 megapixel capability will serve almost everyone else’s needs and can be bought for a little over a hundred bucks.


Well, to bring this to a conclusion, the new club will meet the first Monday of each month at 110 W. Texas Avenue, at the Baytown Art League building at 6:30pm.  Bring a dollar for the kitty and join us.  Most of all bring a hunger to learn and if you have something to share, it will be welcome too.

Canon SD 950 IS, Canon 990 IS, Sanyo Xacti CG9

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Should I be Scared too, Eddie?

Is our government driving this great country into the ditch with total abandon? Are we on a runaway train ride into destruction? Is our country is such steep decline that we will never recover our former position as a world leader of freedom? Is there a global conspiracy to combine the whole world under one ironclad fist? Should I buy up food and guns and bury them in my boat shed?


I remember years ago when I point-blank asked (in response to the many warnings) the question of "What can we do then?" and the reply from the conspiracy theorists was "There's really nothing we can do. It's too big. It’s a runaway ride into slavery."

So, since there was nothing I could do, I decided to roll on.

I continue to vote for the lesser of the 2 evils. I work the system the best I can for my family. I save what I can and I enjoy life to the best of my ability. I pursue hobbies. I try to influence my local government to improve our collective lot. I attempt through my Blog to influence those around me who actually read what I write with whatever is on my mind at the time and whatever facts are at my fingertips and this changes, so my opinion changes.

I try not to worry, but I find myself worrying.

Are we supposed to all move out into the woods, store up food and ammo and become anarchists? What, I once again ask (since so many claim to have their ear so close to the pulse of this coming dilemma) do you all experts suggest each of us do to stop it?

Can you give us clear advice? What exactly have you all personally done to change the future? It seems so many are alarmed, but no one knows how to reverse it.

Anyone can stand on a stump and yell out warnings (such as "WE NEED CHANGE!" - Barack Obama), but unless they can deliver a clear-cut message that actually answers the myriad of problems, they are wasting their breath and my time. Personally I hope Mr. Obama suddenly jerks from sleep and decides to drop all agendas except the one that will benefit all Americans, my family included.

Many mainstream American voters are sick and tired of our government in general, regardless of which party is boasting about having the answer. I can’t recall so many people being angry over all government as we are seeing right now. Usually they are mad about one party or the other, but the TEA parties are just mad at poor government period.

Ron Paul doesn’t have a chance either and I think he is true to what I believe - less government is better. I don’t even want to see the government in my business unless there is a disaster and then I want to see my government step in and help the people. I do not want to see my Government borrow 2.5 million dollars from Chinese banks and give it to Libyan charities ran by Dictator Qadaffi’s children, and thank God the State Department was denied this preposterous recommendation by our Congress.

Here in Texas folks are storing up ammunition. Some think it will be taxed it through the roof, while others think they will need it in the coming revolutionary war. I figure if it gets down to an internal war (read: war against Globalism and a One-World Government), there will be plenty of guns and ammo laying on the ground - plus, I have always believed if a person stored up enough food, etc. to hold them over for a year, it would all be taken away violently by the scavenging masses anyway, so why bother?

I wish I knew exactly what to do, but I don't, so I will continue to read, watch, eat, work and write - just like before.

Customer service is not what it used to be

I was called by a local business today to pay for a maintenance service on my in-ground pool. My debit card on file had expired. ...