Monday, November 30, 2009

BB’s Delicious 3 Onion Pinto Beans and Cornbread

I’m making a great big pot of beans because it’s a cold rainy day in Texas 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.


3 lbs pinto beans
3 lbs Ground chuck
1 lb bacon
Hatch’s Diced Tomatoes
Slap Ya Mama™ Cajun seasoning
Yellow onion
Purple onion
Green onion
Glory™ seasoned beef cooking base
1 container Pico de gallo pre-mixed (fresh)
1 container 3 chilies mixed (fresh)
3 cans chicken broth
Whole pickled jalapenos
2 heaping tablespoons of minced garlic


4 boxes Jiffy corn muffin (mix according to directions)
1 can creamed corn
2 extra eggs
1 can sliced-up small pitted black olives
Shredded cheese
Sliced pickled jalapenos
Butter slices on top of finished bread and melt
Sprinkle top with Slap Ya Mama™ Cajun seasoning before cooking

I boil the beans and then pour them into a colander, then reboil in fresh water, but you can soak them over-night if you like.  I fry the bacon, and then throw it in the big pot with all the Hatch’s tomatoes and fresh cut pico and chilies.  I fry the ground chuck in the bacon grease after pouring off the extra and sprinkle this with Slap Ya Mama™ Cajun seasoning.

When the ground chuck is fairly browned, I add the copious amount of onions to it and soften them up a bit.  Did you know that onions are so good for you that you should eat them with every meal?  It’s true.  Then I add the garlic.  Garlic is extra good for your heart too.

The beans steam away and I add the onions and ground chuck to the big pot.  When the beans are fairly soft, I crush a lot of them with a potato masher and then pour them into the big pot to begin the process of blending the flavors.

At this time I begin putting my cornbread together and as soon as its in the oven, I make 3 cups of rice to compliment my two delicious foods.  15 minutes after rice boils, I am ready to take my cornbread out and have a mess of beans.

Pinto Beans on Foodista

The Chinese Make a Lousy Gas Can

Yup, I said it – the Commies do not know how to make a gas can with a vent or a bendable spout which does not spill or burp gasoline every time you try to fill your lawn mower’s gas tank, or your weed trimmer’s fuel reservoir.  It’s pathetic and it’s environmentally disgraceful!

There I am, in my own backyard trying to pour a copious amount of petrol (time is money and I don’t have the time or patience to trickle it in) into my grass-cutting machine and gabloop chug – a gurgling squirt of precious and potentially grass-killing fossil fuel regurgitates onto the mower engine and deck. The gas can-designing genius who ignorantly designed this can, left off the vent.
It’s a travesty.  Just try to find a fuel container designed by the Japanese.  Good luck – as if luck has anything to do with it.  The industrious Japanese (thank you Dr. W. Edwards Deming) raised their standard of living to the point that they cannot compete with the Commies in the gas can arena anymore.  Of course, all red-blooded Americans hated “Jap-junk” as it was called, but now we know and realize their stuff was actually an improvement over what we had initially created.  They ingeniously copied our stuff and improved it.

This is evidentially not the case with Chinese imported products.  They discovered that all they had to do was flood our market with cheaper products, regardless of the quality of said products, and they could eliminate the competition – and, we deal-hungry Americans would buy it regardless of a drop in quality.  And they were right.

Heck, we didn’t even notice.

The day after Thanksgiving is named “Black Friday”.  The reason for this goes something like this.  Back in 1966 the good folks in the City of Brotherly Love (the city with the most murders per capita) were out of control buying selling and celebrating Capitalism (spending money on Christmas presents) and the cops called it a Black Friday.

Supposedly these days, business owners go from being in the red to being in the black, or a place where they pass the break-even point.  Us product-savvy lemmings call it Deal Day and we rush out in record numbers and charge our credit cards up to get the great deals, only to pay interest down the road and end up getting the deal for more than the original price – and then we repeat it next year.

Mercifully, the National Retail Federation’s marketing web site invented a way to extend this frenzy for cheap Chinese inferior imports by inventing Cyber Monday.  Whoosh – ka-ching!  Another credit card gets punched, but this time it’s online, so its an even better deal.

Almost everything we buy falls into the same category as the gas can.  It all comes from China, is cheaper than the competition and pushes its way to the top, leaving us with fewer choices for quality goods (if it says NIKE on it, it MUST be good stuff). 

Buy a lawn mower or dishwasher and in 3-5 years, they’re both junk – throwaways. If you opt to have them repaired, it’s often cheaper to just buy a new one – another Chinese made sub-quality piece of short term junk. 

My Chinese-made gas can has a straight semi-ridged spout, so when I try to bend it, as I pour gas into my mower’s tank, it squirts the gas over the top of the fill hole, then it burps because the plastic can does not have a vent.  I’m weary of this.  I’m going to take an awl and poke a hole the top of the can behind the handle and cap it with a pencil. 

That’s all the control we got left in this country over products.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baytown Bert’s Delicious Texas Great Northern Bean Soup

I’m making a great big pot of beans because there’s a Norther blowing in 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.

Big Pot – Everything goes in it.

2 lbs. Great Northern Beans - soak em or not (I boiled, then rinsed, then boiled again).
Yellow onion - diced
Green onion - diced
Celery - diced
Garlic, salt, pepper
Tony Chachere’s™ or Zatarain’s™ Creole seasoning
Hatch™ green chilies tomatoes
3# Ham

Boil all this until tender. Use a potato masher and mash the beans to the bottom of the pot until you make a nice gruel-like consistency. Serve with sweet cornbread.

Big Ham, Bacon & Northern-Navy Beans & Stuffed Cornbread on Foodista
Great Northern Beans on Foodista

Monday, November 23, 2009

What This Town Needs is a Good Cheap Donut!

This town needs a good dozen donuts that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

On a spur of the moment decision, I decided to whip into Shipley Donut Shop on Garth Road and West Baker for some plain cake donuts. I hadn’t had one in, like, forever (stupid Valley girl talk that’s ruining people’s vocabularies) and the time and traffic were right.

The lady behind the counter disconnected whoever she was communicating with on her personal talking device and lethargically asked what I wanted. I cheerfully replied I wanted a half dozen plain cake donuts.

Ka-ching! $3.99 please…

Four dollars, for six two and one half inch non-descript plain cake donuts? I mean, there’s no filling, sprinkles, or glaze on them, I thought, but handed over a fiver.

When I got home, I looked in the box and pulling one of these diamond encrusted and precious lumps of deep-friend dough out of the box, I measured the pastry to see how much acreage was going for these days…not much for my money.

The unadorned donut in my hand was a measly 2 1/2 inches across for about 70 cents. It tasted okay – that’s all, just okay.

So, picking up the land-line, I called the various shops in town to see what the going rate is. Here is what I came up with:

Shipley Donut Shop - Glaze/Doz $6.69 Cake $6.99  Most Expensive donut award

Doughnut Wheel - G $4.99 C $5.99
Snowflake - G $5.45 C $5.75
Donald Donuts - No Answer
Baytown Donuts - No Answer
West Coast Donut - G $5.99 C $5.99
Victoria’s Gourmet - G $5.99 C $5.99

Shipley won for being the most expensive overall in these two categories – glazed and cake. Doughnut wheel, which incidentally my sister-in-law, Tammy Tallant says has the most delicious cinnamon rolls, came in with the lowest price on glazed, but lost the cake donut title to Snowflake.

I apologize to the shops I did not poll, but if you will drop me a line, I’ll come over and check you out.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Red lights, Cameras and Stops Signs

I have no problem with the red light cameras, because I made up my mind a long time ago to come to a complete stop before turning right or gauge the distance to the light to give myself time to stop before the yellow light changes.

Without the red light cameras it goes back to the free-for-all attitude we’ve witnessed for years and that is one thing I do not want to see return.

In 1981 a red-light runner slammed into my 1979 Pontiac Bonneville at Decker Drive and Bayway. He hit me broadside doing 60 mph as he flew through. He was in a smaller Pontiac station wagon and it totaled his car. My family was slammed sideways inside the much larger car, but basically okay. We never saw him coming due to a larger truck next to us.

This town has been subject to poor driving habits for years and when the Baytown Concerned Citizens first met at El Toro’s on Garth road, we asked the city to crack down on crime and do whatever it takes to bring law and order back. I stood before a very hostile crowd along with city officials and BPD and asked them to crack down on traffic problems.

As the spokesman for BCC, I plainly stated the well-known fact that the easiest way to catch a criminal is through moving vehicle violations. Criminals have no regard for the law and routinely break traffic laws. That explains why someone hauling 50 pounds of cocaine will get pulled over for speeding.

One of the ways the city responded was to install red light cameras and if there is a learning curve, then so be it. Speeding through red lights or turning on red without stopping first is a crime and guess what? - it has consequences. We are getting what we asked for - a return to law and order.

The reason there has been a slight increase in accidents related to the red light cameras is the character behind the one that decides to stop instead of risking a ticket, has every intention of going through the light and is going too fast and too close to stop.

Call it any way you want, but the fault lies in the second driver’s poor skills and habits, not the camera, the stopping motorist, the speed limit or the light’s timing.

If the speed limit is 40 or 45mph, the driver still has the responsibility to reduce their speed to accommodate the lights. That’s basic driving education and this fact has gone out the window with the advent of better brakes and more hemi-powered cars. It appears the accelerator trumps the brake pedal, doesn’t it?

A Baytonian has set up a website to force the city through petition to take down the red light cameras. It is located here. You decide.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hawks, Owls, Dogs and Cats

W took our three-pound Pomchi puppy, Bella to Dr. Cynthia Lipps office the other day for its parvovirus shot and observed an adult cat sleeping in the office. I commented that it probably slept all day after prowling all night and the Vet assistant informed me the cat was basically permanently helpless due to a near fatal hawk attack. All it did was eat and sleep and was actually content.

Now I’m not totally ignorant about predacious hawks and small animals and based on the large number of cats in my neighborhood, I never really worried too much about the flying predators. All that has changed in the last year. We own an eight-pound Shih Tzu and a three-pound Pomeranian/Chihuahua mix, called a Pomchi, plus we regularly are watching my daughter and son-in-law’s two dogs - a Yorkie (seven-pounds) and a rat terrier (twelve-pounds).

Behind our house is seventy acres of woods and swamp. Coyotes, feral hogs and even bobcats roam these woods, which tells me there is plenty of food for these predators. I’ve watched large raptors hover over the woods many times including Caracara (Mexican Eagle) and until recently; they were nothing more than a curiosity.

Not too long ago, to my surprise I watched a great horned owl land on the power line directly in my backyard. The giant bird had close to five feet of wingspan and it sat in the near darkness and turned its head slowly this way and that and that is when I realized how terrifying this bird of prey could be to small animals. I researched this owl species and found out they have a talon grip of over 500 pounds per square inch, as opposed to the average man’s 60 ppsi. A bird like this could snatch a full-grown raccoon or armadillo with no problem. What chance would a cat or small dog have?

My sister Connie lives out close to Dayton and she has lost a number of cats to hawks and has warned me repeatedly to watch my doggies. The whole situation has made me view these birds as a menace.

I decided to Google “hawks attacking dogs” and was surprised to see how many pet owners have lost their animals to hawks, including attacks on twenty and thirty pound dogs. Numerous people have lost their dogs while walking them on leashes and a number of folks report hawks swooping down on them while standing on their property.

My wife and I now grab our dogs any time we see a hawk hovering nearby, but our nightly visits to the backyard so our dogs can “potty” leave us almost helpless to stop an attack by an airborne predator. About fifteen years ago, I had a Pomeranian-Shih Tzu mix that ran off into the woods and we never saw her again. To this day I believe a coyote got her, or maybe a bobcat.

People who are not pet lovers won’t see this column as a big deal, but those of us who care for animals need to take note and as habitat disappears, watch for aerial predators when we have our pets in the yard. One lady suggested stepping on their wings when they pounce on your pet, as she warns they will not surrender your pet easily. I hope I never experience any of this, as my pets are like family and it would be too hard to bear.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Uniform Code of Military Justice - Malik Nadal Hasan

When a young man or woman raises their hand and are sworn into the US Military, they effectively and voluntarily surrender their Constitutional rights. They now belong to the US government, which has its own military constitution. This is known as the UCMJ or Uniform Code of Military Justice.

I was sworn into the United States Air Force November 23, 1970 and verbatim, my oath was this: "I, Gilbert S. Marshall Jr., do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

As an 18 year old native son, I took this very seriously and still do to this day. As an 18 year old, even in my naivete state of immaturity and experience, I knew I was suspending my personal views to enforce the will and policies of the US Government, whether I agreed with the policies or not. Our military depends on this subservience. I want to say this again. Our Country’s stability and military depends on this subservience.

Now mind you, I was 18 years old when I raised my right hand and I understood my obligation with uncharacteristic clarity, for a teenager anyway. I was enlisting as an Airman Basic, not accepting a commission as college graduate into the ranks of leadership, which by definition is an officer and a gentleman (woman).

Officers have a different version when sworn in and held to higher standards. This is the oath our shooter took: "I, Malik Nadal Hasan (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God." (DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)

Major Malik Nadal Hasan has not only committed premeditated murder on his own soldiers, but voluntarily performed the most heinous form of treason known in the military. He has violated his oath of office with extreme prejudice. In civilian terms this is akin to a mother or father killing their own children – or (in a bizarre coincidence) a doctor killing his patients. The death toll now stands at 13 dead and 30 wounded and this at the bloody hand of a man who had never been in combat and was an expert at helping those suffering from the ghosts of war.

His vicious and deliberate act of violence was of the most cowardly sort also, as soldiers are unarmed on Post, unless they are military police. He was like a man with a club in pen full of baby seals.

As a Vietnam Veteran, I personally would like to strangle this fellow with my bare hands.

Take note that I have not mentioned his religion, but if I were the Commander in Chief, I would order a mass security clearance reevaluation of every person in our military this day, which has the word(s) Muslim/Islam on their dog tags.

We as a country, especially in our military, cannot give every Muslim serving in the military the simple benefit of the doubt, when we have officers killing their own men as acts of faith. What chance of survival did Major Hasan think he would have at Fort Hood? I’ll answer that one – none. He saw himself as a suicide bomber or an IED. He was going for the 70 virgins…, but he survived.

Nope, we need to pull in every soldier, Marine, airman, sailor, etc (especially those serving in our Embassy’s) who has the word(s) Muslim/Islam on their dog tags and under the UCMJ, make them re-swear allegiance and fidelity to this country or resign their commission or general discharge their butts out of the service.

Enough is enough.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Baytown Dog Park, Mosquitoes and Fleas

View Cary Bayou Trail in a larger map

I communicated with Scott Johnson this morning.  He’s the head honcho over Baytown’s Parks Department and a good one, I might add.  A short note here on Baytown and it’s parks – they are managed very well and it’s obvious a high priority is placed on their maintenance.

The conversation went something like this: 

BB: “Mosquitoes and fleas Sir.  Help!  What exactly is being done to ensure the dog park doesn't become a breeding ground for fleas”?

Scott: “The Health Department sprays for mosquitoes on a regular schedule.  (The mosquitoes are winning)  As for the fleas, this is the first we have heard of a problem.  We will look into options and see what other cities are doing”.

At this point Mike Lister joined the conversation and added:

Mike: “The recent rains and moderate weather has ‘hatched’ a large crop of mosquitoes across the entire area.  We are larviciding and adulticiding (spraying) as best we can with weather permitting.  I will insure that the Jenkins Park area is sprayed during our routine spray efforts for that zone.  Thanks for the ‘heads up’ and we will do our best to knock them down”.

Mike is the Go To man at Health & EMS here and another mover and shaker (as opposed to a fatcat do-nothing).

BB: “Good deal.  Both of our dogs are on Advantage, which is a topical treatment that is systemic, but when we bring them home, they have fleas and they jump off in our house and Mike, good deal.  I’ll spread the word”.

So, there you have it fellow Baytown friends.  Never let anyone tell you that our city bigwigs are lazy, or don’t care about this city and its citizens.  Their jobs are pretty much thankless, but not from me.

If you haven’t been to Jenkins Park, the Cary Bayou Trail (see the map above), the Skate Park or the Dog Park you are shorting yourself.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Baytown Photo Club Meets Again!

This past Monday the Baytown Photo Club met for the second time since its inception in October. Everyone brought a buck for the Art League and a photo to display (and possibly sell) at the Art League during the month of November. The theme was “Multiples” and it was obvious from the many variations that photographers view that term in many different ways.

My entry was a photograph I took on the Fred Hartman Bridge last year and it features a silhouette of the two uprights and the many cables. As far as I know, the angle of this photograph would be impossible to take from a car, regardless of how you hung out the window or how slow you were moving, as I was physically walking over the bridge and was up close to the guardrail.

I’ve yet to learn everyone’s name, so I will refrain from mentioning anyone’s. One lady brought an interesting photo of an ashtray overflowing with ash and cigarette butts. I really liked it. Another photo was water reflecting the sky taken inside the rundown Brunson Theater. It was excellent. It could sell.

My brother TJ Bustem brought a Halloween themed photo taken at a “haunted house” in Houston. Admission was $35, so needless to say they had some very well done images inside the house to photograph. His featured an entrance lined with human skulls floor to ceiling.

Numerous people brought food themed photographs rich in detail and color and there were many photos presented that were taken while folks vacationed around the country. Personally and this is no reflection on anyone else, I like to keep my photos close to home and home is Baytown, but this is not a Baytown-photo only club, but a club for photography.

We are having a photo walk and shoot November 21st that is open to the public. We will meet at the Baytown Nature Center at 9am make our way down to the elevated pavilion. It costs 3 bucks to get in the gate and you can park there and walk, or drive in someplace and park. Bring a sack lunch and plenty of water and mosquito repellent.

If you would like to join our club, we will be meeting December 7th at 6:30pm at the Art League of Baytown on Texas Avenue. The only requirements are the $1 a month dues and a willingness to learn and share. Our next theme is “Red”. Red anything – you decide. Bring an 8X10 or 5X7, printed on paper or on photo paper.

We have a Flickr web site set up to display photos of members and it’s located HERE. We also have a Google Groups mailing list and if you would like to join, we will sign you up at the next meeting.

Grab your camera, regardless of what your skill level or equipment is and join us.

Elvis has left the room

I want to set something on the table and anyone who bothers to read anything I write, please take a good hard look. We are living in a...