Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick not to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!

We're loading up the car this morning to, literally, go "over the river and through the woods" to Grandmother's house for a full day of family, football, and feasting. (I'm not taking my laptop. I'll be off the net until Saturday.) I hope everyone enjoys the holiday... And, while the turkey may not enjoy it much, I sure plan on enjoying the turkey!

Programing Note: There will be no Nut Cache today, and no The Squirrel Can Cook tomorrow. See you next week!

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

110th Griz-Cat Game

Today is the 110th meeting between the Montana Grizzlies and the Montana State Bobcats. Montana needs a win to make the NCAA FCS playoffs. If the Bobcats win, they will clinch the Big Sky conference championship. But all that fades, because it's the GRIZ-CAT GAME!!! The Grizzlies lead the "Brawl of the Wild" series 69-35-5.

Here's some quotes from this week's Missoulian by a couple of former Griz players, who now play for my Atlanta Falcons:

Kroy Biermann, Former Griz, defensive end, Atlanta Falcons: I remember the excitement of that week leading up to the game and then obviously the excitement of the game. The whole state of Montana is watching. It's a huge game and it was just fun to be part of. Our stadium gets so packed when it's in Missoula. It's just so loud and the energy ... it's indescribable playing on that field.

Shann Schillinger, Former Griz, Atlanta Falcons safety: Last year, being a senior, having a chance to go undefeated in the regular season and going down there and winning in Bozeman was remarkable. The way we did it. It's something I'll never forget to be able to sing the fight song on their field was a very special moment for all of us seniors.

(Yes, I'm at the game.)

Update: The record is now 69-36-5 as the Griz fall to the Cats 16-21. It's been that kind of season...

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Friday, November 19, 2010

The Squirrel Can Cook – Slow-Cooker Turkey Breast

(This is part 2 of the Teach Susan Yenser to Cook series)

It is 6 days until Thanksgiving, and thoughts turn to turkey dinner. But turkeys are HUGE, and, unless you’re cooking for a big family or a bunch of guests, a whole turkey, even a small one, really is just too much. For smaller gatherings, consider a boneless turkey breast. Today, we’re going to cook a boneless turkey breast in the slow-cooker. (Technically, it is a “turkey breast roast” because the de-boned turkey breast has been rolled into a roast shape and bound with a string net.)

Our ingredients are:
Turkey breast roast – thawed
¾ cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
Squirrel’s Low-sodium Cajun Spice

Remove the turkey breast from its package (but leave the string net on), rinse it under cold water, and pat it dry with paper towels. Coat with olive oil and then rub a generous amount of Squirrel’s Low-sodium Cajun Spice all over – top, bottom, and sides.

Place something in the bottom of your slow cooker to hold the turkey about ½ inch off of the bottom. (I’ve got a nice little wire rack that works well. An upside-down saucer would work, too.) Fill the bottom of the slow cooker to just below the level of your rack. (The chicken broth adds flavorful humidity to the slow cooker, and keeps the turkey nice and moist. Nobody likes dry turkey!)

Place the turkey in the slow-cooker, skin side up. Cook on high for 1 hour, then cook on low for 6 hours. After 6 hours, check internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Your turkey breast is done when the center reaches 170+ degrees.

Remove from slow cooker, place on a rack above a drip-pan, tent with a sheet of aluminum foil, and allow the turkey breast to rest for 15 minutes.

Slice and serve! Serves 6 (or four with some sandwiches later) (or two with lots of sandwiches for later!) Enjoy!

The Squirrel shall not live by bread NUTS alone!

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 11/18/2010

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

The brand new City Hall building in Chandler, Arizona has opened, and it has a lot of nice, environmentally-friendly features. The lights, for instance, turn on automatically when someone enters the room, and off again when they leave. (Of course, this motion-detector-based system also shuts the lights off when people are working quietly at their desks…) One water-saving feature is that the water that flushes the toilets is the waste water from the building’s air conditioning system. Because the toilet water is “used”, signs were posted instructing people not to drink from the toilets. A sign? Really? Was this a problem with the folks who worked at the old City Hall?

Here’s a real “dumb criminal” story from Jackson, Michigan. It seems a man put on the robes of a Catholic priest, walked into the back room of St. John Catholic Church, and walked out with the money collected in the offering. Silly criminal, he happened to live in the neighborhood, and was recognized by people in the church (who knew he wasn’t their priest!). Yup, arrested…

South Dakota is a tough state. The rugged terrain and harsh weather are enough to toughen up just about anybody. Take Jack, for instance. When faced with a 150-pound mountain lion, Jack didn’t back down, but when on the offensive… and the mountain lion fled up a tree! And one more thing about Jack; Jack is a 17-pound Jack Russell Terrier! Jack’s owner is quoted as saying that Jack “trees cats all the time” and Jack “figured it was just a cat.” (Tell your dogs not to try this at home. We lost our family pet, Nipper, a Shetland sheepdog, to a mountain lion when I was a kid.)

A sore loser’s last act of defiance? Raymond Hamrick, Sheriff of Cleveland County, North Carolina, lost big-time in his re-election bid in the election a few weeks back. In fact, he only got 4% of the vote. Alan Norman, the new Sheriff-elect, was a captain in the Sheriff’s office under Hamrick. In what can only be interpreted as a fit of vindictive spite, Hamrick fired Norman last Friday, as well as three other deputies, who were on the Sheriff-elect's transition team. “The Friday firings sparked a wave of public criticism, with many in Cleveland County decrying Hamrick's decision. But the incident also seemed to cement county residents' support of Norman and his new administration.” Yes. No doubt. The county commissioners quickly re-hired the four men. Alan Norman takes over as Sheriff on December 6.

I have mixed feelings about tattoos. I’ve got friends who have them, and they’re quite popular these days, and I’ve seen some that were very attractive. (And some that weren't...) If you’ve got a tattoo, fine. I don't have any, nor do I desire to ever get one. But I’ve often wondered about guys who get tattooed with their girlfriend’s name; what happens when they break up? Now you’re marked with the name of some girl forever. What do you tell the next girl? Not that I’ve spent a lot of time pondering this quandary, but I’ll admit that I’ve never looked at it from the ex-girlfriend’s point of view; how does she feel about having some bozo she’s not seeing anymore permanently marked with her name? The discomfort such an idea brings is understandable; however, this is not the answer!

I don’t know that this relationship ever got to the “tattoo” stage. It certainly won’t be getting to the altar! When Francisco asked Stacy to marry him, there was not a happy ending. She said, “No.” Well, Francisco, it seems, has a hard time taking “No” for an answer, and tried to run Stacy down with his car. He was arrested later while forlornly walking down the street, still clutching a bouquet of flowers. Two thoughts: First, attempted vehicular homicide pretty much nixes any chance of the couple reconciling. And, second, he probably should have picked a fancy restaurant instead of Burger Stop as a place to “pop the question.”

And the Nuttiness goes on and on...

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Programming Note

There is no The Squirrel Can Cook today. I will be out of the office until Monday. That is all. As you were. Carry on.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 11/11/10

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

I'm a "foodie", and I'd never heard of Cook's Source magazine until last week. Now, a lot of people have heard of Cook's Source... and not in a good way. I understand that intellectual property rights can be complicated, however, folks who write things; like books, or songs, or articles, or blog posts; own the product of their labors. How could you get a job as a content editor at a magazine and not know that? Well, Cook's Source magazine editor Judith Griggs, it seems, never learned that. When author Monica Gaudio found out that Cook's Source had published an article from her blog without permission and complained about it, she was told by editor Griggs, "But honestly, Monica, the web is considered 'public domain' and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" your whole article and put someone else's name on it!" When the story came out, folks took a hard look at Cook's Source, and found articles "lifted" from NPR, Martha Stewart, Food Network, and other sources - all copywrited. Sadly, Cook's Source is trying to play it up that they're the victims here. I doubt Cook's Source will be around much longer. (H.T. my sister-in-law Julia)

French car maker Renault is going to make an electric car. That's not really Nutworthy. They want to call their electric car "the Renault Zoe." That's not really Nutworthy, either. What is Nutworthy is the fact that two families, with daughters named "Zoe," sued Renault to try to get the name of the new car changed, because "children who have the first name Zoe could face a lifetime of mockery for sharing the name of a car." You can't make this stuff up! I wonder how girls named "Mercedes" cope? I seem to recall that Karl Benz named his automobile after his daughter, Mercedes, back in 1901...

All library books have due dates. We all know this, and, yet, we've all missed a due date or two over the years and had to pay a late fee. But, for some reason, whenever books are really late, libraries tend to wave those late fees. I think the Boston Public Library should have insisted on collecting the $4,391.80 late fee for the two 60-year-past due books, myself.

I don't normally include video in the Nut Cache, but this one is just too funny. I saw this on Facebook yesterday, and I still laugh every time I see it. Could be the best football play ever! Gutsy call, too! The quarterback should get an Academy Award as well as the touchdown for his great acting job!

Weddings can be elaborate affairs involving the coordination of myriad details. With so many details to be seen to, there are many things that can go wrong. The friends of bride Jillian Sherlock didn't want her to be upset during her wedding, so they kept it a secret that the wedding limousine had been carjacked outside of the church right before the service. "As police cordoned off the front of the church with crime scene tape, inside, the ceremony went on as planned, and another limo was dispatched to take the wedding party to the reception." - and all without the bride knowing anything was wrong! The car thief has not yet been caught.

Social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, & MySpace, have become commonplace. People can't do anything without tweeting it or posting it to their wall. That includes stupid criminals, like this guy, who used the computer in a house he'd broken into to log into his MySpace page. When he was done, and left the house, he was still logged onto MySpace, making it really easy to ID him later. Dumb criminals sure make the cops' job easier to do!

And the Nuttiness goes on and on...

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Friday, November 5, 2010

The Squirrel Can Cook – Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole

Most times, by the time I get around to blogging a recipe, it has been a few weeks since I actually cooked the meal in question. Not this time. What you are looking at was last night’s dinner. And it was late… really late… I think we ate around 7:30 PM or so. I forget that, when you cook dinner from scratch, you need to start cooking shortly after lunch. Anyway, Mrs. Squirrel was very patient with me, and we tried not to over eat. All is well that tastes good! (And I like breakfast for dinner sometimes!)

This hashbrown casserole is a great breakfast all by itself, or is a great side-dish as part of a large breakfast or brunch gathering. I served a variation of this as a side dish when I cooked omlettes to order for a crowd of seven at my Oregonian friends’ home when I stayed with them a few weeks ago.

Our ingredients are:

9 thick slices of bacon, cooked and cut into ¼ inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped and sautéed
5 red potatoes, grated and drained (dump the grated potatoes in a tea-towel and squeeze the excess liquid from them)
10 slices of bread, crusts removed
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
6 eggs
4 cups of milk
1 tablespoon of yellow mustard
1 tablespoon of butter

Cut the crust from 10 slices of bread & cut two slices in half. Liberally spread butter on the inside of a large casserole dish (mine is a 10-inch by 15-inch dish). Line the bottom of the dish with the sliced bread.

Crack the 6 eggs into a large mixing bowl; add a tablespoon of yellow mustard, and wisk until smooth. Slowly pour 4 cups of milk into the bowl while continuing to wisk gently until thoroughly mixed. Cover and refrigerate.

Grate and drain the potatoes and sauté the onions. In a large mixing bowl, mix the potatoes, 2/3rds of the cheddar, 2/3rds of the mozzarella, the bacon, and the sautéed onions. I find it best to use your biggest bowl and just get your hands in there and mix the ingredients well. Arrange evenly on top of the layer of bread in the casserole dish.

Gently pour the custard into the casserole. Pour slowly, otherwise you could disturb the potatoes and such. Bake, uncovered, in a 375° oven, for 45 minutes. Remove and spread remaining cheese on top, then return to oven for an additional 10 minutes.

Let stand 5 minutes before cutting. Makes 8 servings. Enjoy!

The Squirrel shall not live by bread NUTS alone!

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 11/4/2010

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

I’ve never understood the pleasure that some people take in jumping out of perfectly good aircraft that are going to return safely to the airport. Don’t get me wrong, if there is something wrong with the aircraft, and it is not going to land safely at an airport, then I am all in favor of parachutes! I’ve just never seen the attraction of jumping out of an airplane for fun, is all. But, maybe when I’m 85, I’ll think differently. I'm just glad that 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 don't list "enjoys skydiving" as a qualification for pastor...

To the best of my knowledge, this was not a relative... (I note that the article says nothing about the condition of the squirrel.)

Most of the time, cops spot criminals by their behavior… they just act “hinky.” But not Vincent John Sullivan, age 64, he was calm and cool. After robbing the bank, he walked down the street to a coffee shop and ordered breakfast. After eating, he had the waitress call him a cab to take him to a hotel, but with a stop for some cigarettes. Right after he left the coffee shop, the police showed up with pictures of the bank robber. Police were waiting for the cab when it pulled into the hotel. Oh, yeah, this all happened in Missoula, where even the bank robbers are laid-back… (& it made the national news wires)

When my Daddy taught me to drive, he told me to always make sure that the vehicle wasn’t going to roll after it was parked. Put it in 1st gear and set the brakes – if it is an automatic, put it in park and set the brakes – if it is on a really steep incline, chock the wheels. These lessons were reinforced when I took Drivers’ Education, and reinforced again when I took CDL training. Well, there is a Spokane fire truck driver who didn’t quite learn that lesson...

I remember reading a chapter in a self-defense manual years ago on improvised weaponry. The author gave all sorts of tips about how, if you were caught unarmed, many ordinary everyday objects could be used as weapons. I wonder if this 16-year-old would-be robber had read that book when he tried to use a bottle of salad dressing as a weapon to rob a convenience store. The store owner didn’t have to improvise a weapon, he just pulled his handgun. Never bring salad dressing to a gunfight…

Southern boys are taught to be polite, and to always say “Please,” and “Thank you.” But Mrs. Thomas thought that these two Fayetteville, NC boys weren’t all that polite when they left her a “Thank you” note after robbing her house. “Thanks. We love the items we found today. Love u." was scrawled on the wall of her hall. Dajuan Marquis Avant, age 19, and Darrell I. Sturdivant Jr., also 19, were caught with the goods, and have been charged. Really, and thank you note after a burglary isn’t a very good idea…

With the election just passed, I thought I should bring to your attention some of the measures that were on the ballot that you might have missed. In Pittsfield, Massachusetts, voters rejected a measure that would have allowed women the same right to walk around shirtless that men have. (But, really, guys… put a shirt on!) And Denver, Colorado voters rejected a proposal that would have established an official commission to track extraterrestrials and collect and catalog the observations and reported sightings of extraterrestrials in the Denver area. (The scary thing is that 20,162 people voted in favor…)

And the Nuttiness goes on and on...

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