Of Bread and Bread Bags

Of Bread and Bread Bags

Yes, that’s the fascinating title for today’s post. I think I better explain…

The part about bread, specifically, is that last Saturday, I messed up–badly. And I’m posting today to own up to what I did…

You see, last Saturday, the 23rd, was National Banana Bread Day and I didn’t… no, I did NOT bake any banana bread!

Not a single loaf.

Had all the ingredients on hand. The bananas were at the peak of ripeness… meaning almost black.

But still, I didn’t so much as turn on the oven!

I’m a complete failure as a home baker! A fraud, a phony!

As midnight approached, I felt worse and worse about this unforgivable omission.

I had even made a point to grab the newest batch of bread bags which had arrived from Amazon three or four weeks ago. I had misplaced them after the delivery and made sure they were around for my next loaf of my favorite fruit-bread combo.

And then, while taking a momentary  break from my self-flagellation over my supposed failure, I realized that I was starting on my second batch of bags… And that the bags come in lots of 100…

And it hit me! I’ve baked a hundred loaves of bread over the last fourteen months!

Well, that was a pretty cool thought!

I let myself down from that cross and realized that, although I hadn’t come through on “thee day”, it’s nevertheless true that Ben Been a busy baker and that when you look at the overall picture, I do belong in that proud gaggle of  committed, for-real home bakers!

Tomorrow’s the day for the next two loaves of banana bread. I have a regular Wednesday buyer and I’m not going to disappoint him.

And then a loaf of the delightful, round loaf of crusty, rosemary-topped skillet bread I love so well.

I need to buy more zucchini at the grocery today for the next loaf of amazing Lemon-Zucchini bread I’m just wild about…

Yeah, Ben’s not in the Baker’s Hall of Fame. But he’s for real!

 

“Baker Ben” Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

National Drink Wine Day 2019

National Drink Wine Day 2019

I’ll bet most of you didn’t know that today’s the day! I’m happy to do my part to let you know about really important things like National Drink Wine Day. It’s what I do. You’re welcome!

Sometime after 5 O’Clock, I’ll be doing my part to celebrate this momentous occasion.

If you pull your weight, I won’t have to drink an extra glass to compensate!

Whether you imbibe or not, I hope this Monday is a fine day for you; I’ll be checking in again in the near future with another post of monumental importance!

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

PS: I did have some thoughts on the fact that N.D.W.D. falls on the same day as Presidents Day this year, but I’m gonna keep all that to myself! Now where’s that Mascato? 

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

Can we talk about gender roles on Valentine’s Day?

Let’s talk about gender roles. About those roles and how they’ve changed in the last generation or two…

I’ve typified that whole list of Alpha Male characteristics all my life but the truth is, I’ve been on a journey over the last several years to drop the mask and interact differently with others.

Especially with women. Especially in light of how our culture is shifting, or has shifted to a more woman-centered way of doing things.

Being a boomer, this shift was a very big deal for me. Truth be told, I thought it was awful when I first began to see it clearly.

And then after a while I would whine about how the culture evolved from men being in charge to women being in charge without any transition time in between where we at least paid lip service to being equals and negotiated everything, and so on…

And now I see that–although friends or couples are free to discuss stuff, negotiate stuff and deal with stuff anyway they want–we have passed into a time when women get to hold the power stick.

Like a lot of us–a lot men in particular–I saw how these things were changing but was probably well behind the curve and wasn’t able to “see” it all clearly or articulate how this was working itself out in our culture or how it might effect me and my relationships.

So by the time I had any real grip on this, it was pretty much a done deal.

I spent most of the ’90s seeing that a patriarchal  system had been weighed and found wanting but convinced myself that the new way of doing things was the aforementioned negotiation and perpetual compromise model that I carried around in my head.

But I get it. Someone has to chair the committee. And although, as I said before, friends and couples certain can work these things out in any way that’s mutually agreeable, for most folks, Mom is wearin’ the pants.

Of course lots of people don’t see it that way. And a lot of men are resisting. You go, bro!

At this point, I just have to throw out a joke. A joke, I hasten to add, that I heard back in the ’60s!

Dude says: “I wear the pants in this family! And I have my wife’s permission to say so!

Now, humor aside, I can now see clearly how ugly and vicious men who cannot or will not accept this can be. It puts many culturally conservative people in the US–your evangelical crowd, especially–in common cause with extremists in other cultures and religions.

The things done here and all around the world to “keep women in their place” are often horrible! And it’s astonishing that so many conservatives in the US are fully on-board with that kind of thing and don’t see how that attitude, when carried to its natural end, essentially makes them into a sort of American Taliban.

This “fight” is going on everywhere. In every corner of the planet. And even though the particulars can be very, very different, the general process tends to be quite similar.

I think most of us are ready to accept that one of the most important–if not the most important–skill any man can bring to a relationship is the ability to say “yes, Dear!”

So let me offer up my own take on where we are as far as gender roles and all of that: “Happy wife, happy life” is a fine mantram for us when we’re not quite sure where we are or what works in a 21st Century relationship.

Men who cannot or will not get on-board drag their feet at their own risk!

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2019 Benjamin Basile

The National Climate Assessment

The comprehensive  report about Climate Change and its consequences is called the National Climate Assessment and it was released about ten weeks ago.

I noted that the report had been released at that time but failed to put together a post about it.

But, obviously, the assessment is still very relevant a few weeks later. And it’s very, very urgent.

This was the fourth Assessment, the third having been released in 2014.

Not only is the tRump administration showing complete indifference to the report, they tried to minimize its impact by timing its release for Black Friday.

Just what you’d expect from a president who has tried very, very hard to kill our nascent solar power industry, done everything in his power to shrink National Parks, green-lighted proposed drilling projects in extreme environmentally-sensitive areas and who believes that the very idea of climate change is a hoax cooked up by the Chinese government.

I am in that clique of passionate climate change-watchers who are science-literate, pretty well up-to-date on the latest developments and who have concluded that humans will never take the hard actions which would be necessary to keep the horrible, earth-killing consequences which are outlined in the assessment from happening.

The chances that humanity will act in time are very, very close to zero.

And it certainly won’t be because we weren’t warned.

It will be because business interests who are profiting from the status quo and corrupt and ignorant politicians were hell-bent on raping the Earth to safeguard corporate profits.

It’s a dark, disgusting and dystopian story. One with a shitty, tragic ending.

And humanity is too cowardly and too subservient to its corporate overlords to keep the story from coming true.

To see the assessment in its entirely, follow this link.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Fighting Funny Food Phobias

Fighting Funny Food Phobias

Some of you may know that I spent a huge chunk of my working life as a server. At Disney, and many other places. Some well-known chains, some Mom-and-Pops, a pretty good cross section of restaurants.

And that’s one reason why I enjoy doing restaurant reviews. I love to cook and bake; being a foodie is a big part of who I am.

Now, sanitation is one of those things that everyone who cooks–whether at home or in a 5-Star establishment–thinks about.

When you’re in the business, a big part of your training is in safe food handling procedures.

And that’s as it should be. I’m not trying to say differently.

But some of our attitudes about food, how we prepare it and our relationship to it have become just a bit… shall we say, just a bit overly-sanitized.

Let me flesh that out a little: our ways of preparing and even thinking about food are a huge departure from how humans have done it for all but a tiny fraction of the time we’ve been on the planet.

Two brief anecdotes about my experiences with food and how we prepare it will help shed some light on this.

Unless you’re reading my blog for the first time, you know I love camping and just about anything else one can do outdoors for fun.

And I’m happiest when I’m cooking on my propane, two-burner camp stove. It’s just way too much fun.

This may seem funny, but you should have seen how hard I tried in some of my first outings in the great outdoors to translate restaurant “best practices” into the camping environment.

Yeah, it was pretty funny!

It wasn’t too long into the process that I gave up trying to always keep something more-or-less sanitized–even if just paper towels–between my cooking utensils and cutlery and those not-sanitized picnic tables.

It feels really good now to just cook my stuff, tongs and utensils, ladles and pot stickers, lids, grits and bacon bits, all flying around and coming to rest God-knows-where until the good stuff eventually comes to rest in my belly! Where it should go!

Even I am not OCD enough to prepare my food on one of those glorious forays into the Mom Nature’s back yard the way we do in a decent eatery or even in my kitchen, for that matter.

Last little story about this and how my awareness has evolved: I opened a container of brown rice the other day and found that some moth-like pests had paid a visit between the time I emptied a bag of rice into the jar and that moment I opened it up. And, yes, that had been a long time.

Not sure if they were able to get in there–it was a very cheap container–or if they were larvae who “came of age”. Rice and grits and pantry pests! It’s a thing.

Don’t know. Didn’t have to know.

The “me” before my camp cook’s epiphany would have gone “yuck!” and then summarily thrown out the rice.

The “me” after illumination picked out the corpses of the moths or weevils or whatever the hell they were, cooked the rice and enjoyed the hell out of it.

A little onion, garlic, cumin and weevil protein–loves me some o’ dat!

So I’ve tried to get past some of my silly food phobias and feel like I’ve come a long way.

But I’m thinking that if you go back just a bit further–in terms of human evolution, I mean–our forebears would have handled the bug-in-the-rice thing a bit differently.

No doubt in my mind, that they would merely have picked out the bugs and eaten them! 

Dead or alive!

I guess at the end of the day, I’m actually a pretty modern camper!

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Basile

 

 

Super Bowl LIII not so Super!

Super Bowl LIII not so Super!

Pretty much every American and half the Earth’s population knows that Super Bowl LIII is over and that it was… well, let’s put it this way: it was lackluster. Sub par. Not the best ever.

But for this dog, it was still the Super Bowl.

I must state at the outset that I wasn’t neutral. I’m a Patriots fan. I’m first-and-foremost a Bucs fan, but I’m not the kind of dude who thinks that you must love the home team and hate the other 31! I’ve never been of that mindset.

I like the Pats for two main reasons: the first is that they’ve achieved a level of excellence that is unmatched in the history of the NFL.

The second is that my family lived in Cape Cod when I was just a wee lad–basically my kindergarten and first grade years–and those two years were pure magic! I’ve adapted quite well to my sub-tropical existence here in Florida, but I’d go back to Cape Cod in a heartbeat if I could pull it off.

So yes, I was pleased with the outcome even though the game was a bit of a yawner. And no, I don’t like Tom Brady’s outlook on what’s happening on the political scene. It’s an issue. But I can plainly see that he is–by any measure–the greatest quarterback of all time.

All-in-all, the 2018 NFL season was good. We saw Patrick Mahomes explode into superstardom, Drew Brees had a stellar year at the age of 38. Some of the playoff slots were contested right up until the final whistle of the regular season. It was a memorable year. I’ll take it!

And as far that usually-super but this-year-not-so-much contest that capped off the year: yeah, I’ll take that too! The Pat’s defense proved that it’s much better than anyone thought, Brady’s the GOAT and we can all anticipate another top-shelf, amazing, hell-yeah, Super season come September!

Oh yeah, the final score was 13-3.

But you knew that!

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile