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332 Landslide

332 Landslide

January 13, 2009

What I Had for Dinner - Shrimp Jambalaya

Sounds great, doesn't it? Well it WAS, and it only took about 45 minutes to prepare. Thanks to a sale at my local grocer and a tip from a television cook that stuck, I managed this great tasting meal fast.

I started with one of the boxes I picked up at 10 for $10. The store was offering 2 varieties of the Zatarain's mixes, the Red Beans and Rice along with the New Orleans style Jambalaya Mix. I usually try to get my foods from the health food section of my local Fred Meyers store, but when I see a deal like this I start comparing labels. A few pennies and sometimes a few dollars savings aren't enough to convince me to eat what I read on some of those labels. But while the ingredients on the Zatarains didn't make me all warm and fuzzy, thiamine mononitrate {I don't like to see any nitrate or nitrite on the label}, thiamine hydrochloride and MSG were the only objectionable items so I went with it considering the cost saving was $2.39 per box!

The shrimp was picked up at the same store during the same shopping trip. As I was passing by the wall of freezers containing the processed fish and premade burger patties, I remembered an episode of Good Eats in which Alton Brown explains that the only ingredients one wants to see on a bag of frozen shrimp is shrimp, water and possibly salt. Any other ingredient is a preservative, adding to weight, detracting from flavor and producing an odd slimy/mushy texture. I decided to see if my grocer carried this 'plain' variety. Of the 4 I found, only one was 'plain. 'Arctic Shores' is what I brought home. These were individually flash frozen, raw, shell on ez-peels. You'll want to feel the bag in the store, make sure the shrimps are separate (mostly) and not one giant lump. This indicates the bag has been thawed at least partially and then re-frozen. Re-freezing degrades the texture and taste of the shrimp. I pulled about 15 from the bag, pulled apart the few that had stuck together, and lay them flat on a paper towel while I prepared the Jambalaya mix. You could just as easily pull that package of smoked chicken apple sausage from costco out and chop it up, or a Johnsonville's Brat.

I diverge just a little from the preparations listed on the box, but not much and you don't have to at all. First, of the 2 1/2 cups of water called for, I substituted 1 cup of Pacific organic vegetable stock and dropped about 1/8 of the water since I was going to be adding frozen shrimps. Pacific's line of stocks are very tasty, I think the fact that they come in a carton rather than a tin can is a large reason for this. Organic stocks and broths are available, even a free range organic chicken stock. YUM! Also, I have a little red pepper flake and garlic in a grinder and used about 5 turns of that along with a turn or two from the black pepper grinder in with the stock, water and olive oil. When that came to a boil I added the mix as directed but set the timer to 23 minutes instead of 25. And DO NOT add the shrimp at this point as directed.
I hate over cooked seafood, and so should you. The taste and texture are bad, and memorable. You only need to cook a frozen shrimp about 5 minutes, and a thawed one about 3 minutes. The difference between 5 and 3 minutes is stringy, rubbery, hard and tasteless VS tender, succulent and flavorful.
Like any rice dish, do not lift the lid during cooking after bringing it to a boil and then reducing the heat. The steaming process is critical to the liquid absorption and cooking process. In this case, we have to make one exception so we have to do it quick. At the 22 minute point move the shrimps over near the stove, at 23 lift the lid and stick the shrimps in by the tale quickly around the outside of the pan but not touching the pan edge. Raise the temp just slightly from simmer, recover quickly and cook for the remaining 2 minutes. Turn off the stove and remove from heat at 25 minutes. Let stand covered for about 7 minutes. Just a little longer than the directions call for, since we are starting with frozen shrimps.

When the time is up LIFT THE LID! If you're like me, your mouth has been watering for about 20 minutes. Give the Jambalaya a quick light fluff and let it set for just another moment while you get a nice wide, shallow bowl. If you happen to have a lime, a quick squeeze would taste great right over the top. I didn't....

A couple of toasted cracked wheat sourdough slices with a light coating of real butter on the side and I had a nearly perfect dinner. "What?" you say? Why not perfect? Well, that comes tonight! Jambalaya is one of those dishes that really comes into it's own the second night. Most foods fall into this category in my opinion. Really, only some fish dishes are the exception. Tonight is the perfect dinner night for me.
Some other things I could have added to this dish, fresh or preserved tomatoes comes to mind. Any sort of cooked meat really, and I almost considered roasting up some fingerling potatoes and tossing those in. It still sounds really really good, something about the texture made my mind think that double carb was perfectly normal. My logical brain won out, no potatoes this time. I suppose any of your leftover veggies and meats could be added and this would only get better and better.

Follow this link for a full 'from scratch' recipe from the folks at Yumsugar.

January 6, 2009

The Bush Administration's Dirty Time Line

From the beginning of President George W. Bush's first term through 2005, NRDC compiled a comprehensive account of his administration's actions on environmental matters. You can use the links above to search the Record's hundreds of stories or to browse by topic, or click here to view by date.

You can follow the timeline to see some of the 'lowlights' of the Bush administration's environmental actions between 2001 and 2008 -- dismantling safeguards, ignoring climate concerns, marginalizing sound science and catering to industries that endangered Americans' health and natural heritage.

January 4, 2009

Eyeless in Gaza - Lets Help Them to See

"Israel has bombed the power plants, water and sewage treatment facilities, and restricted movement in and out of Gaza which has essentially become the world's largest standing concentration camp. Why? What is this about? And why is Israel getting away with this starkly inhumane treatment?

Before you start lecturing me about what the Palestinians have done to bring this upon themselves, stop. No. I'm well aware of the tortuous politics of the Middle East (or West Asia, if you prefer). Here's a timeline of the events leading up to today's report of tanks entering the much-bombed and repeatedly destroyed strip of Gaza."

Everything you ever wanted to know about the fiasco in Gaza but could never figure out, thanks to Mainstream Media. Please take the time to click on the title link or the 'Shrinking Palestine' image to read the whole, informative article.

The Center for Public Integrity

The 380,000-plus-word database presented here allows, for the first time, the Iraq-related public pronouncements of top Bush administration officials to be tracked on a day-by-day basis against their private assessments and the actual “ground truth” as it is now known. Throughout the database, passages containing false statements by the top Bush administration officials are highlighted in yellow. The 935 false statements in the database may also be accessed by selecting the “False Statements” option from the “Subject” pull-down menu and may be displayed within selected date ranges using the selection tool below. Searches may also be limited by person or subject, or both, by using the appropriate selections from the pull-down menus.