Thomas Jefferson on the Public Interest and Judicial Supremacy

Thomas Jefferson ignored the Supreme Court whenever he felt like it, especially when the rulings were made by Arch-Federalist John Marshall. In his old age he summed up his feelings about the aristocratic status that judges had acquired.

At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office.

Thomas Jefferson

Naturally, he always pointed to the fact that there are actually supposed to be three co-equal branches of the government, as mandated by the US Constitution–none is supposed to have carte blanche over the others. What a concept–democracy.

Now we have six unelected, Ivy League pseudo-educated religious bigots, deciding what the law is and is not. King George the Third looks like a little league dude compared to this arrogant bunch of buffoons, and the amount of power that they have usurped..

We have yet another Voltaire moment imposed on us, Voltaire being the writer whose bust just happens to be in the main hall at Monticello. We must cultivate our own gardens, and not recognize the corporate lackeys that have been installed as judges. I no longer shop at Wal-Mart and other equally repulsive big box stores, and I have never even considered having any dealings with a travesty like FarceBook. Take their money away, and watch them collapse.

We may very well lose the right to have majority rule, if we haven’t already. We can still always vote with our feet.

Hoya! Empty Shelves and Hyper-Inflation

Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity will know what Hoya! means. It’s the stuff you don’t want to step in whilst in the Horse barn, or any other barn, for that matter. These days, I can’t even look at the news media on the interwebs without having a bushel of Hoya! chunked at me.

My two favorites–empty shelves and hyper-inflation. I have actually seen one empty shelf at the supermarket, but that was a year ago when all the toilet paper hoarding was going on. Even then, it wasn’t completely empty–some brands remained in stock. As I am not a a fan of any particular kind of this sanitary product, I grabbed some and left. No harm and no foul.

Gas prices? They have gone up, but buy a Prius like ours, and you won’t notice or care. We still have to buy a tank of gas every couple of months, but it is usually in the twenty buck range. Stop driving your Ford Extinction, and get over the worries.

And then there is the all-time world champion, the fate of the un-vaccinated. They are in fact dying like flies, but if you live with the intelligence of a fly, you are probably going to die like one. The CDC can issue all the mask guidelines it wants, but as the cliche goes, you can’t cure stupid. As my hero Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

In short, I am going to have to go back to one of my favorite writers, the nineteenth century American philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce. He devised the most famous definition of the formation of a hypothesis, a procedure he named “abduction.” An astute person applies a general rule to a particular problem, and acts according, though the general rule MUST BE BASED ON FACTS AND REALITY, if it is to be useful. Four vaccinations later (three Covid and one flu), and I have not grown a single crocodile scale, or truthfully, even had a single noticeable side effect.

Maybe that is just me, but as HD Thoreau said, I don’t know anyone else nearly as well as myself.

December 16–Pizza al Fresco

Mangia

Yes, winter in the age of climate disruption. Technically this was late late last fall, but with temps in the mid 70’s, it might as well have been late late spring. In this situation, the only thing to do is light up the brick oven, and eat some pizza outside.

Our pizza sauce has evolved over the years, and I will simply list the secret ingredients, soon to be secret no more. Here it goes:

Balsamic Vinegar

Garlic Paste

Italian Tomato Paste in a Tube (like the Garlic Paste)

Homemade Pesto, frozen in an ice cube tray

Home canned local Tomatoes

It is possible to screw up the sauce even with these ingredients, but it can only be accomplished with some difficulty. Go easy on the vinegar and the paste, and all’s well that eats well.

I will resist the temptation to make another bad joke about Al Fresco. I could hurt his feelings.

Smoke House, Part Two–How Firm a Foundation

I Need Cement

The smokehouse continues to grow. It is now completely framed (just like me), but here it is in infancy. Instead of laying every run of block with cement, I just put rebar into all four corners, hammered them into the ground, and filled the holes with cement. This foundation is not going anywhere.

The Fire Pit

As this is to be a cold smoke/hot smoke machine, I re-used a rusted out old Lodge cast iron grill as a fire pit. Under all those leaves is a nice thick layer of concrete, into which the old grill is buried.

We’ll break this in this spring and summer hot smoking some trout and a turkey or two, and connect the cold smoking stove next fall. I am considering hanging a sign above the door that says, “Smoke ’em if you got ’em.”

Smokehouse, Part 1–The Cold Smoke Machine

The Things You Find in the Scrap Pile

The game is afoot, as Sherlock liked to say to Watson. I am finally finishing off my brick oven, AND building a smokehouse to go along with it. There’s some history to go along with this plan.

Back in the day, every farmer in our area had a smokehouse. MJ’s grandfather’s was a beauty. He built a fire right in the middle of it, but only smoked meat during “hog killing weather,” which began in November when it formerly became very cold.. In short, cold smoking was the only smoking he did, which meant that the temps inside the smokehouse never topped ninety degrees.

I’m going for one that will cold smoke and hot smoke. I will be able to build a fire in the smoke house, and one outside of the smoke house, thanks to the steel wood stove that was buried under my scrap pile. Moving it also helped clean out my workroom.

Be that as it may, the foundation is also completed now, and I am ready to frame this thing. Check back in another week or two, as we are about to have some very good weather for working outdoors.

A Pizza Hut and Three AK-47s

As someone who spent an entire two months working at a fast food joint, every year at this time I have to celebrate the anniversary of the great Pizza Hut heist. This particular robbery involved three young women who were teenagers, all of whom were packing AKs.

The locale was Bessemer, Alabama, part of the Birmingham Metroplex. When you have a new AK, the impulse is to use it, so they decided to knock over the local Pizza Hut. And they were not after the bread sticks.

The news for this trio went from bad to worse. Anyone who has worked in retail lately knows that hardly anyone pays cash–it’s all on the plastic. The teenager’s reward was twenty something bucks and change, which they promptly lost in the parking lot. Then the police, who must have mistaken the Hut for a doughnut shop, nailed them right away.

Moral of this story? Don’t mess with the Hut in this state. It’s enough to make Mikhail Kalashnikov proud.

Creole Grillades and Fresh Peas

Before the Swallowtails Eat All the Parsley

This is a close copy of the Grillade recipe in The Picayune’s Creole Cookbook. As I cannot follow any instructions, I added one ingredient.

Ingredients

One cube Steak, cut into small pieces

Bacon Fat

1/2 Onion, Diced

1 clove Garlic

1 tablespoon Flour

2 medium Tomatoes, milled

Chicken Stock

Salt and Pepper

Chopped Parsley

To start, cook the onions in the bacon fat. Add the garlic, and cook for a few seconds. The addition of the flour makes the roux–brown it properly. Add the steak, and cook for about a minute. Finally add the tomatoes and chicken stock for something of a creole sauce. The parsley is garnish.

We use LA rice to go with this, and we just bought a basket of perfectly fresh pink eye purple hull peas. What we didn’t eat went into the frizzer for the winter. We are the ants in the Ant and Grasshopper fable, as we also buy twenty pounds of rice at a time. We just about need a bigger frizzer.

Thomas Jefferson, Mary Randolph, James Hemings, and Curly Fries

That’s right, a founding Father, a founding Mother and Father of American cooking, and the venerable curly fries. Venerable? The recipe goes back to 1824, and helps to answer the vexing question that many parents with small children face–“Mommy, Daddy, where did curly fries come from?”

As usual, there is an easy answer, and a complicated one, which is partly an exercise in probability. The easy answer is that the first printed recipe for curly fries is from Mary Randolph, and her 1824 bestseller The Virginia Housewife. From the section, “To Fry Sliced Potatos.”

Peel large potatos, slice them about a quarter inch thick, or cut them in shavings round and round, as you would peel a lemon; dry them well in a clean cloth, and fry them in lard or drippings. Take care that your fat and frying-pan are quite clean. . .

Mary Randolph

Cooked in lard over a wood fire! Possibly the best of all time. I’ll try these in the event that our high temps ever drop below ninety.

Here’s a list of probable sources–Mary Randolph herself. She was a real business woman, and nothing creates more business than novelty. Alas, she was not a chef, but an owner and a writer. Probability–moderate.

Next source–Thomas Jefferson. He is regularly given credit for introducing French Fries to America, which at the time were widely known as “pommes de terre frites à cru en petites tranches.” Translation: small potato slices fried raw. In short, exactly like Mary Randolph’s first version of fried potatoes. Alas, Jefferson was no cook. One of his servants said that the only thing Jefferson could do in the kitchen was wind the clock. Probability–low.

The next candidate–James Hemings, the man who actually did the cooking for Jefferson. He studied with two French chefs while in Paris, served as Jefferson’s chef, and undoubtedly ran across pommes frites, as the potato was making its magnificent debut in French cuisine. James taught his brother Peter French cooking, and Peter moved to Richmond, which happened to be where Mary Randolph set up business, as he, like his enslaved brother, were freed by Mr. Jefferson. Probability James or Peter introduced the curly fries–high.

Let’s head to left field and the capital of Nerdlandia. Here’s a possible method of transmission. Jefferson and Franklin both attended elaborate potato themed dinners thrown by the guru of French potato cultivation, Monsieur Parmentier, of Potage Parmentier fame, aka, Leek and Potato soup. Parmentier was like the original potato apostle, and would serve seven consecutive courses, all of which featured potatoes. Did his chef invent curly fries, or even Parmentier himself? Probability–total speculation.

I’ll leave you with Mary Randolph’s final suggestion, which is a must–when you take the curly fries out of the lard, don’t forget the salt.

Life in a Red State

Buried Counters

There was once a common saying in Mississippi, which was a simple “The richest land, and the poorest people.” That perfectly sums up the contradictions of living in a Red State.

Barbara Kingsolver discussed this dilemma quite perfectly in her essay of the same title, “Life in a Red State.” Naturally, she started with a discussion of how her kitchen was literally covered with tomatoes. Then she expanded from there. After today, I can definitely feel her pain.

The tomatoes and peas are only a fraction of the haul I made this morning at the Festhalle. Those two combined cost us the princely sum of $26, with the maters being the majority–$20. Preserving those this weekend will be a whole lot like work.

I once worked at a Southern public University where the faculty salaries were right at the lowest in the country, and the administrative salaries among the top ten percent. There is only one solution to a problem like that–leave. All that got us is a beautiful river front house, and tomatoes up to our necks. There’s nothing to not love about that.

Alabama Power Being Sued by Episcopal Kid’s Camp for Charging an Extra $32 a Month for Having Solar Panels

What’s more dangerous, solar panels or Taylor Swift’s politics? Really, a question that Southerners have to face daily. Not content with being last in the country in education and covid vaccination, Alabama Power Company is launching a war on kid’s camps that have solar panels.

Camp McDowell in Winston county is one of the most beautiful places in the South. Then those crafty Episcopalians decided to save the Earth by installing solar panels. AL Power– a monopoly– is having none of that. McDowell is being charged $32 a month for the crime of having ethics.

Now in Federal court for picking on children and a church, AL Power has “no comment.” Probably the smartest thing they have said in decades.

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