Monday, February 25, 2013

Red Quinoa and Tofu

FROG HOSPITAL -- unsubscribe anytime

Feb. 25, 2013

Red Quinoa and Tofu

By Fred Owens

Red Quinoa and Tofu. Red quinoa has a nice nutty flavor and an earthy brick-red color. I made a stir fry to serve with red quinoa last night. Here's the recipe:

1-pound Firm Tofu, cubed and patted dry with a towel. Marinate with sesame oil, garlic powder, lemon-pepper salt and a dash of cayenne.

2-medium leeks. Slice and steam until tender -- if you put the leeks right in with the other veggies they won't get tender.

1-cup red quinoa. It cooks quickly with two cups of water. Set aside.

Heat the saute pan with generous oil. I used olive oil. Add the tofu on a high flame until it gets a little brown. Add -- but do not stir in, just add it on top of the tofu -- the leeks, some chopped green onions, a few broccoli florets and a bunch of chopped chard. Turn the heat down, let it cook for a while.

Then stir up the tofu amongst all the veggies, put a lid on the pan, and let it simmer for a bit longer.

Serve over the red quinoa.

We grew the broccoli in the winter garden. The chard was a gift from the carpenter's son. The leeks were bought at the Saturday farmers market in Santa Barbara.

I had a glass of Guinness Stout with this meal. Quite nice on a cold and windy night -- what passes for winter in Southern California.

Michele Obama Announces Best Picture Oscar Michele Obama will be the last First Lady. Changes in our marriage customs will make this role meaningless. The next President may or may not have a spouse, but that spouse will have a career in some non-political field -- an architect perhaps -- but will not play any social role at the White House.

The Next Pope. The next pope will come from Brazil or Argentina. He will be 60 years old, plus or minus. He will spend very little time in Rome, but will instead establish an informal second papal home in his own country...... The Italian cardinals will support this new Pope because he will not overthrow the status quo.

Girls go to College, Boys go to Prison.

Girls go to College, Boys go to Prison. This is not a good trend.

Young men are imprisoned at record rates because they do not know how to behave.

In the 1950s coherent and strong social controls compelled good behavior in young men leading to low crime rates at that time...... The social controls were abandoned in the 1960s and the crime rate soared. Since nobody could agree on what new social controls could be imposed on young men, the alternate solution was installed -- just lock them up.

There is no emerging consensus on what constitutes good behavior in our culture, so we cannot expect any choice but prison for our young men.

Other factors apply -- sentences are too long, non-violent drug offenders should not be jailed in the first place, and Private Prisons should not be allowed to infect justice with the profit motive -- but we still need to consider better social controls instead of prison.

First Class Mail. Conservatives believe that government is inherently oppressive and inefficient. I don't agree with that. I think government can do good things. First-class mail is a good thing. Rural residents -- many very conservative people -- have benefited for generations because of this subsidy. It costs more to deliver mail to out of the way places, and if Federal Express did this, they would simply charge more for rural delivery, but the Post Office charges the same whether it's across the street or down some distant gravel road out in the boondocks.

Same with power and electricity -- the big cities were wired for electric lights by private utilities, but it cost too much per customer to run power lines out into the country. So the government did that in the 1930s -- read about LBJ's early career in the Texas Hill country when he worked to get the lights on out on the farm.

But government is getting a bad name lately because they can't seem to do anything right. I don't want hear "our schools need more money because our kids are failing." I want to hear, "look at these wonderful children we taught." I want government to fix the roads before they build the bullet train. Why don't they do something that will impress the skeptics? -- do it on time and under budget -- that would get my attention.

In the future, society will be one-third celibate, one-third homosexual, and one-third pro-creative.

The first part -- one-third celibate -- is surprising but we're going to see a decline in Eros, or at least the genital variety. The root of Eros is the life instinct to reproduce. You cut that connection and first you have an outburst of wild sex, which is what we see now, but then sex diminishes -- because there's no need for it -- and celibacy becomes a voluntary and desirable status. Life is the root, Eros is the flower.

One-third celibate, one third homosexual, and one-third pro-creative.

St Mike's Mourns Fr. Robert J. Madden C.S.B., 1928~2013

Fr. Madden was my freshman English teacher at this small Catholic college -- part of the University of Toronto. After he retired from teaching he took over alumni affairs and he stayed in touch with me and a lot of my class mates.

After one class re-union, I came up with this much better idea --

What bothered me about alumni affairs, the fundraising, and the reunions, was that it was all about success -- achievements, milestones, things you brag about.

I thought we could do a little better at St. Mikes and make the events about failures. You were twenty pounds overweight, you just lost your job, your wife left you, your daughter is anorexic, your son is dealing drugs and you're clinically depressed. These things, at least some of them, have happened to all of us.

So you don't come to the reunion, and they don't put that sad news in the newsletter. And yet those moments are when you could really use a little backup from your classmates.

Success takes care of itself, but we ought to be there for each other during times of failure.

Those are my thoughts as they sent Bob Madden away to his celestial rest -- he was a very good man, and I miss him already.

My Old College Roommate. I might write a story about my old college room-mate. I knew him well, we roomed together for three years. We weren't friends in that sense -- we never did things together, but why would we? We slept in the same bedroom, or shared the same apartment for three years -- not much point in going out for a beer on top of all that.

So, anyhow, I have this story idea, only who would be interested? Nobody. They say a good writer can make anything interesting..... No, a good writer might discover that interesting bit, might reveal it, but you can't concoct it whole cloth. There's no make believe. Think of writers with fantastic imaginations -- Ray Bradbury and his sci-fi creations, but he was still working with human clay, picking up pieces of what he saw around him and molding them together into a story.

But that doesn't help. Even Ray Bradbury could not write an interesting story about my college room-mate. And Quentin Tarantino wouldn't even try....... Tarantino would find some violent and dramatic story and amplify it to extremes -- blowing up buildings, shooting people -- shock, speed, quiet shattered by screams of obscenity, relentless pressure .... he would ramp it up -- so what could Tarantino do with two boys on the farm in Nebraska? Picture this:

Tom Orent and his brother Dick, both sitting in recliners, watching TV on a hot evening in July in 1966 -- a away out in the middle of Nebraska, a few miles down a gravel road from a small town called North Loup -- called North Loup because it's situated on the North Loup River, a tributary of the Platte...... Tom and Dick out on the farm, got five hundred acres in corn, got a long-low super-modern high-tech barn that houses a pig-feeding operation with a few thousands hogs. They grow the corn, feed the hogs, sell the hogs, and grow more hogs again next year. Where's the story?..... The farm is pretty in places, some forested ravines run through it, where live a herd of deer that feast on the harvest corn, and provide venison for the winter freezer.

Pretty exciting -- Quentin Tarantino can eat his heart out, because I have the high-drama concept going here -- Tom and Dick on the farm, eating popcorn. You know what Michele Obama said, "you will grip your arm-rest a little tighter," with vivid scene likes this.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My blog is Fred Owens

send mail to:

Fred Owens
35 West Main St Suite B #391
Ventura CA 93001

Monday, February 18, 2013

Charlie Krafft Story Stirs National Debate

..... I was waiting for somebody else to say this. It's an unpleasant topic, so it was easier to pretend it wasn't going on. Finally I just decided to call it bullshit and be done with it. What happened is that I was playing online chess with Harvey. He's Jewish. He lives in Boston. I told him about my friend Charlie Krafft and his anti-Semitic ravings on Facebook. Harvey said why do you even have such a friend?

Good point. So I blocked Charlie on Facebook, because it's not a debatable question. I wasn't initiating a dialog with him, I was ending it.

I also stated this clearly in a Frog Hospital newsletter, dated January 11. People emailed me after that, old friends of Charlie's, saying it's about time for this..... good for you ... yes, it needed to be said .....

But a dangerous path is fixing somebody's life, so I just forgot the whole thing. I'm living in Santa Barbara these days. The weather is nice down here and who needs trouble.

Meanwhile, my story stirred up a national debate on anti-Semitism -- read the story about Charlie Krafft in the Huffington Post -- I am interviewed at the end of it. And one other story about Charlie, also in the Huffington Post.

Both of these national stories were based on a similar story in the Seattle Stranger written by art critic Jen graves --- this story generated more than 200 comments. You might find it interesting to scroll through the comments, especially toward the end, when the white supremacists come out of their dark holes to defend Charlie. These people actually exist!

And the Stranger story was based on my Frog Hospital newsletter about Charlie's bad habit -- posted further down --

The sad thing is that Seattle's soft-headed "tolerant" climate has known and put up with Charlie's mad hatred for many years. It was really about time somewhat called it bullshit, which I did, and apparently it's sticking.

Charlie makes a modest living as an artist. He promotes himself very well. He thrives on controversy. He's verbally agile. But this stuff he's gotten into -- if that's how he needs to make a living, it would be more honorable to collect food stamps or sponge off your relatives.

From the January 11 Frog Hospital

A Message for Charlie Krafft

Charlie Krafft is a well-known and well-liked Seattle artist with a penchant for notoriety. Charlie's appearance is courtly and his manners are thoughtful. He can be quite good company at a dinner in Chinatown -- a part of Seattle that he knows very well.

Then of course there is history -- his sojourn in Fishtown back in the misty dawn of hippies days, when he lived his monk-life in a small cabin on the North Fork of the Skagit River.

But the problem with Charlie -- this is a recent development -- and why beat around the bush -- Charlie has become anti-Semitic. He doesn't yell or scream or say he hates Jews. No, not like that, much more quietly. He might say it's research or just following his curiosity to peer into various websites which preach the Holocaust denial and warn of the Zionist conspiracy.

Charlie has over 2,000 friends on Facebook -- a good place for him to promote his art. You can cruise his Facebook page and find links to all kind of websites. Just this morning, I found a link he had posted to a YouTube video about how the Jews had masterminded the opium trade in China at the end of the imperial age.

Why is that so important to Charlie? He wanted to investigate the behavior of Jewish merchants in the previous century who were doing something they shouldn't have been doing -- it being fairly easy to discover Jewish (i.e. human) transgressions against the common good.

But, Charlie, why are you so interested in Jewish behavior?

He has told me in person that he advocates a "genteel anti-Semitism" -- sort of a high-church Anglican snobbery, as if it were a harmless custom.

I don't think it's harmless. I think it's bad and wrong and nasty and a debasement of Charlie's own character.

He should stop doing this.

Here's another one -- Charlie just sent it to me yesterday, headlined "The Jewish Mafia and Their USA Bankers." How does Charlie find the time to do all this research?

This is nasty stuff. There is nothing good in it.

A lot of people know and like Charlie, including myself. We've been saying for years, "Oh Charlie, that's just the way he is." Why did we ever tolerate this?

I'm not in the habit of fixing someone's life, but here I make an exception. I want this to stop.

Charlie, give it up or be gone!


Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My blog is Fred Owens

send mail to:

Fred Owens
35 West Main St Suite B #391
Ventura CA 93001

Saturday, February 09, 2013

It's a Lover's Question

Does she love me, with all her heart?
Should I worry, when we're apart?
It's a lover's question, I'd like to know.

It's a lover's question. Clyde McPhatter sang these immortal lyrics. Of course you have doubts. Is love a sure thing? No.

La Donna e Mobile says the same thing. Are you sure she loves you? Maybe you shouldn't take her for granted. Pay attention, young man.

And, old man, it's not over, it's never over, you can still screw up, so keep on your toes.

The Weather. Strong rains in Santa Barbara, a huge blizzard bearing down on New England, and a rather large meteorite rushing by Planet Earth this weekend.

What can I do about this? I can plant more seeds. I have celery, cilantro and basil to get started in flats -- probably too soon for the basil, but I'll take a chance on that.

You Can't Eat the Label. In my last message I said to buy food if it tastes good and if it doesn't cost too much. Of course, you should read the label, and question the decisions of the Food and Drug Administration, and support your local farmer, and buy organic -- all that good stuff.

But you don't eat the label, you eat the food, and you need to trust your senses. Does it look good? Is the color all right? Does it smell tasty?

And the people at the store or the market ..... do you like them? Are they friendly? Are the clean? That's an unpleasant question ..... the world is full of germs and you can take precautions, but the best defense is a robust immune system and you keep up that defense by a limited exposure to pathogens. Seriously, you won't get through life being germ free -- you need to have a better attitude when you eat root beer Popsicles and Fritos, like, "This won't kill me. No. In fact, it will make me happy, and if I'm happy I will live longer and be more healthy."

Love is the Answer. Good food is all about love. Those quiet, stern farmers -- they grow so much food. Why do they work so hard to feed us? Because they love us.. You still have to pay for it -- the farmers need the money in order to keep on farming. But it's love that makes the harvest..

Food prepared and served with love will make you stronger and better-looking. And if you sit down at table with people you care about, you will dine well.

But if you eat in your car by yourself -- ugh! You could be eating the most purified organic toasty granola health bars, but if you gulp it down while you're stuck in traffic, it won't do you any good. Don't eat in your car, and don't buy food at the same place you buy gasoline. It smells bad. And remember, the reason they have the sign up in the bathroom that says "Employees must wash hands ...." -- is because they don't wash their hands.

Recipe -- this dish needs a name. I made this polenta dish last night based on what I found in the frig -- a hearty stew, good for a winter's night.

Take equal amounts of polenta, tofu, zucchini and baby portabella mushrooms. Cube the tofu, pat it dry on a towel, sprinkle with plenty of garlic powder and then add, more lightly, some lemon salt and tobasco or any other hot sauce. Cube the polenta into pieces a little bigger than the tofu. Similarly slice and dice the zucchini and mushrooms.

In a big pan, saute all four ingredients in a generous amount of olive oil. Add some soy sauce. Cook it for a while on a low heat. Then pour over the whole beautiful mess with a half a carton of Tomato and Roast Pepper soup from Trader Joe's -- let it simmer for a while. I needed to add a dash of water to keep it going. You can make it thinner or thicker, depending on taste.

It was delicious. It's the polenta that makes it so filling, which is what I wanted last night.

Happy Valentines .......

Buy the cookbook for only $15. That includes shipping. It's the Puget Sound Mail Cookbook, a love story with recipes. The story is simple. It's winter in Cambridge, Mass. A love affair ends and the man is broken-hearted, so he fixes nice meals for himself -- at least he has that pleasure. Time passes and the springtime comes and the sadness is gone --- that's the story in a nutshell, plus lots of good recipes here and there throughout the book.

For $15, which includes shipping, you can have this slim volume in a week or so. Go to my blog at Frog Hospital and hit the PayPal button. Or make out a check for Fred Owens and mail it to 35 W Main St, Suite B #391 Ventura CA 93001.

You will enjoy this book.

Puget Sound Mail Cookbook, a love story with recipes. Why is it called the Puget Sound Mail Cookbook when the story takes place in Cambridge, Massachusetts?

For only $15, which includes shipping.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My blog is Fred Owens

send mail to:

Fred Owens
35 West Main St Suite B #391
Ventura CA 93001

Thursday, February 07, 2013

It's Still Winter in California

It's Still Winter in California. Yesterday it was spring in Santa Barbara. I pruned the apple tree and the peach tree, working in warm, sunny weather, taking my outer shirt off. I harvested two heads of broccoli. I planted seeds for beets. I weeded out around the sweet peas. I took the weed whacker and cut down tall grass on the hillside. Then I hauled up several bins of green debris -- up 2 flights of stairs -- up from the garden to the curbside for morning pick up....

I planted three milkweeds to attract the butterflies -- planted them around the small pond, plus I planted what I call a sweet pea bush underneath the cape myrtle and next to the cement pelican statue.

We compost most greens on the property -- saving the bigger sticks for kindling. But some of the harsher euphorbia leaves will take about 100 years to break down, so we let the city haul them away -- they get run through a high-powered grinder and then turned to mulch.

Meanwhile, my horticultural partner, known as Ms. Lovely, was pruning her roses, 4 and 5 canes per plant on the hybrid tea roses, and upwards of ten canes on the floribundas.

We pronounced sentence on a tired old rose with a big knobby base, but just two skinny stems. No future, she said, hasn't bloomed in two years. I took my sharp spade and dug up the old bush -- that's a part of life and it happens to all of us -- tossed it in the bin without ceremony. Might buy a new one to fill the space although she said maybe just leave it open and give the other roses more room -- room for the wind to blow and keep diseases and bugs away.

Afterward, she put on dormant spray, on the roses, on the apricot and apple trees, and on the grape vines.

That was yesterday. Today the clouds have returned and the rain should come tomorrow. Southern California might be the only place in the country with normal weather, but we have had just about the right amount of rain this winter, interspersed with warmer, sunnier days. In late January we had night-time frosts for about 5 to 7 days -- but not too harsh, didn't seem to damage the local citrus trees, and the experts say a good frost kills bugs and hardens the grape vines nicely. So we have had good weather up til now and who knows how long that will last.

Issues and Opinions. I am being recruited to take a stand against GM foods (genetically modified) but I decline the offer. I don't even care about organic anymore, or local. I have scattered all these fads and dismissed them -- for the time being. For now, here's what I eat -- if it tastes good and it doesn't cost too much, then I buy it and prepare it. I avoid take out food and prepared and packaged food -- but I'm not doing this because of someone's righteous program, I'm just doing it because food I make myself tastes better and it costs less money.

In my lifetime I have kept a small carbon footprint and been doing that for many years before I ever heard the term "carbon foot print." Just think "cheap" and you will have a small footprint too. Or you could buy a book that tells you how to do this, and then take a class, but pretty soon you're trusting the experts and I advise against that.

I'm the kind of expert you can trust, because I would just tell you to go home and figure it out yourself.

I do recommend 19th century novels, however. Try anything by Thomas Hardy, or Chas. Dickens. Good books will simultaneously ease and stimulate your mind -- laying the groundwork for making good decisions, and your good decisions will make our happy earth a better place for everyone.

Che Gelida Manina -- and never despair, beauty and goodness are always present


Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My blog is Fred Owens

send mail to:

Fred Owens
35 West Main St Suite B #391
Ventura CA 93001

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Spring in California

"Spring in California" That was an old song by George Jones and Tammy Wynnette. Spring comes early to these green hills -- we like to walk out on the breakwater at the Santa Barbara Harbor, see the waves and pelicans facing one way, then turn around and see the green, beautiful hills in the background. Santa Barbara is a town that makes a living being good-looking. Such prosperity! The parks are clean and fresh and the flowers are beautiful.

Texas Governor Rick Perry is buying spots on local radio stations in California. He's touting the Texas advantage -- lower taxes, less regulation, and lower real estate prices. You all come to Texas, he invites us. Perry is welcome to make his pitch -- I lived and worked in Texas six years ago and it was all right, but I guess I just like it better here -- where it's more expensive to live and the taxes are too high and the regulations are excessive -- but you can go down the beach and not worry about all that nonsense.

Anyway, it's always good to be hearing from Governor Perry. I enjoyed it when he ran for the Presidency.

Predictions. This week, the nation is confronting two issues -- gun control and immigration reform. Here's what going to happen -- we have 11 million undocumented or illegal immigrants. The reform that will pass will allow them to stay and get right with the law. Hardly anyone is coming over from Mexico these days, not since the bust and the scarcity of jobs in our country, plus the Mexican economy has gone upwards.... But I hear that immigration from Asian countries is on the rise. Basically, the ones that are here will be staying and the ones that are coming in now will be less welcome. That's the reform. Not to many people will be sent home. Mainly everybody is staying where they are.

Which is exactly what will happen with our vast domestic weapon supply. Everybody who has a weapon will keep it, and those that don't care to register the ownership or sale of weapons will continue to do so. It just won't happen otherwise -- this is only my own observation. I realize that Pres. Obama and his allies have a lot of steam up on this issue and hope to get all guns registered and all ammunition clips limited to ten rounds -- but they will not succeed.

So, to sum it up, and to link these two issues -- the immigrants are staying here and so are the guns and we all can just learn to live with it.

And everybody gets to vote.

Marriage. I wrote about gun control and immigration reform because it was much easier than writing about social issues such as the feared or welcomed changes in our marriage laws. I am thoroughly confused about all this. I am also a responsible purveyor of news and commentary, and since I cannot provide any clarity, direction, or judgment on this question, I will say nothing.

Judgment. Good judgment is the only quality that the old have over the young. Younger people, say 25 or 35, are smarter, quicker, and stronger. They can be astonishing. They can also be astonishingly stupid, because they lack judgment.

Old people are slower, weaker, and working with decaying mental faculties, but they're judgment is superior. The have discernment and the ability to discriminate between a false path and a true path. A good horse from a bad horse, right from wrong. Take an experienced cop, for example. The most important quality any cop can have is good judgment. He needs courage of course, but even more he needs judgment -- that ability to come upon a situation and know the difference between a nuisance and a threat.. That's good judgment, and it tends to be found among older people.

Which is something I am sure of, which is why I wrote it.

Marriage and Judgment. If people don't get married and have children, then we won't have anything but old folks - a country with lots of good judgment but no energy or passion. Doesn't sound good to me.

Note. The title of the song is "Take Me." But the strongest phrase, toward the end of the song, is "and it would be just like spring in California as long as i knew you were mine."

Flowers blooming everywhere, surf pounding on the shore, fleecy clouds sliding by -- not bad at all.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My blog is Fred Owens

send mail to:

Fred Owens
35 West Main St Suite B #391
Ventura CA 93001