Archive for February, 2011









I often derive calm and pleasure amidst the angst and tribulations of everyday trying to-meet-the-bills and fund my dream life goal by creating in the kitchen.  Assembling a great gang of ingredients to nourish myself and any worthy friends who happen by is especially poignant during the winter months when stews take the culinary center stage in my house.  It is the antithesis of the summer outdoor grilling season – not that I do not grill in the cold weather, mind you – a topic for another post, but these “stick-to-your-ribs” dishes go a long way thereby going pretty easy on the budget!

Today’s specialty is “Oxtail Stew” and before  you go “ewww!”, it is not from an ox as you might picture one mentally, but from the male bull beast of burden as related to the cow.  I’ve read that “oxtail” originates from the Portuguese “Rabo”; the tail of the cow.  They can be a bit pricy at first glance in the United States, and I always wait until I see two good, thick  packs of at least three large vertebra in my meat case for under five dollars each.

Once having assembled your meat back at home, remove them from store packaging, rinse in cold water and then place them in your metal mixing bowl to begin the marination party.   The night before, I used one cup of anything from Cabernet Sauvignon to Red Chablis or Burgundy (really the best) to begin the marinade after dousing them with some extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, course ground black pepper, beef broth,oregano, Italian seasonings (marjoram, rosemary, etc), a couple of bay leaves,Worcestershire and soy sauce.  Refrigerate to let these “guys” party all night long.  Generally you do not want to cover them in the liquid, just let them bathe.

The next afternoon, or whenever your are mentally ready to commit to it, remove them from the fridge and allow to gain room temperature.  This is where I begin to relax into the mix in a fashion similar to when I do a music blend.  I pour myself a glass of the kind of dry red wine that I will use for the oxtails to sip as I  begin to chop veggies and season.  Often the fresh “stew mix” is hard to find in the town I live in, therefore I have to “cheat” and get the frozen variety.  Now is a good time to take IT out of the freezer as well.  I always buy fresh parsnips as the frozen blend doesn’t include them.  Get at least two; they are from the carrot family and in-fact, I remember watching Bugs Bunny chomp a few in his day when I was a child watching Looney Tunes! lol  I called then “white carrots” until I learned their real name.  I also get extra celery, mushrooms, small red potatoes (or you can use the ones in a can), carrots (you can never have enough, and remember your Mum told you, “They are good for your eyes!”), beets and any other root vegetables you desire – it is a party-in-the-making, so the more invitees, the merrier for your palate!

Choose your largest, deepest pot with a top – I use the iron one passed down from my Mum, pour a tablespoon of olive oil in and apply low heat.  Grab two medium-sized onions, four nice garlic cloves, place on your cutting board, and begin to chop the onions and mash the cloves.  Mix them all together (wipe the onion tears from your eyes or get some air), and put on some good music.

When you toss in a tiny drop of water and it sizzles, it is time to plop your onions and garlic in the pan, making sure you have enough oil going on so they do not dry-out nor stick, cover loosely and brown them with a dash of seasoned salt, coarse black pepper to taste and a  tsp of butter over a low flame or heat if you have electric coils (which I hate, btw, “Arrrgh!”) for about ten minutes, give or take.   Once you catch that aroma, remove the onions and garlic with a large spoon with holes in it to let the oil stay in the pot, set aside in foil and introduce your marinated oxtails, without the marinade, to your now seasoned pot, sprinkle a tablespoon of flour over them lightly, and cover loosely to brown, turning once for even coloring.  While this is happening you should be preparing your parsnips and other fresh veggies by washing, scraping/grading and chopping into big chunks.

Once you brown on both sides (about twenty minutes) re-introduce your onions, garlic, one can of stewed tomatoes and the marinade!  Let’s get this party started!  Make sure your liquid almost covers the meat – if not, add a bit more broth and vino, etc., cover and bring to a strong simmer.

Change the music, do some clean-up at the sink, and by then it is time to bring all the veggies to the dance!  Remove the lid and let them IN!  The once-frozen bag will temporarily reduce the temperature, but do NOT increase the heat.  Just stir them around, cover and go do something else, like TV, work on your resume or blog.  This is an all afternoon project, so remember to stir with a huge spoon every thirty minutes or so.  Sometimes I don’t even eat it that night, I have something else.  I set the pot in the fridge overnight and slowly re-heat it the next day, while I make the bed of brown rice that I will serve it over. Egg noodles are also useable this way.

Healthy and hearty, it is soon time  to “get down” into the main course!

IMO, men should hone their cooking skills for basic survival, AND the time when they will be able to lovingly share personal recipe delights with the object of their affection in order to insure and seal the  lasting connection!  (I am looking forward to doing just that this year!)  Garnish with fresh parsley, fennel, basil or dill leaves, please. “Viola!”  bon appetite!

You can eat off of this dish for days;  add it to your week’s rotation.

This show is from February, 2008.  Listen & enjoy.

Greetings! I posted a new episode to my podcast, Pajama Bar.

Please click the link below to view it.

See you, “inside” The Pajama Bar”

I KNOW that I am kind of late to the party on this celebration of amour, however I was not “late” where it matters – with my sweetheart! In fact since this “holiday” is new to her culture, I was ahead of the curve, thank you! lol

The catalyst of this post is my anthem and theme song of pleasant St. Valentine’s Days past and especially present with prayers and hope channeling the future. 

By the time you read this (“except on the west coast”  lol), yours is likely settled, over and I hope you got “some” of whatever it is that you desired, if only attention and the promise of future mutual relations.  You see, all the object of your desires needs is your undivided attention, some creativity, respect and truly undying love; that isn’t too much to ask, is it?

“Valentine Love” by Philly’s own Norman Conners, featuring the voice of Jean Carn who I once introduced on-stage at Eisenhower Park’s bandshell in Nassau, New York,  remains as the number one record that comes to mind on this now,  mostly commercial day of remembrance.  In my world, when you have found the “one”, every day is a day when “Cupid” interacts with your romance, and you had better let him or her know it.  The album “Saturday Night Special” came into my young DJ hands via my friendly promo executive at Buddah Records, whose name I cannot recall at the moment, back in 1975 in New York City. Buddah had a kind of “pleasure” sound, whether it be soul, rock or comedy and thier vinyl is slightly heavy and everlasting.  I have noticed that all the labels had their “own” studio sound that set them apart from the rest.

inside sleeve

  “VL” was a hot cut  introduced to our ears by, you guessed it, Frankie Crocker’s WBLS FM back then.  Norman Conners played “Gretsch drums (like Ringo Starr) and Latin percussion instruments” according to the back cover’s credit notes.  Also on this Lp is a version of Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage”, but interestingly, Hancock is only featured as playing on another cut on the album, “Kwasi”.  One of my true favorite bassists, Michael Henderson, played on many of the sessions in those days, and is all over this record with that round, full and smooth bottom (and maybe some vocals) herein 🙂  We played the grooves off of “Valentine Love” back on our university radio station, WBAU FM, in 1975.

The only other Norman Conners album I have is his 1976 follow-up, “You Are My Starship”.  The title track being another song for your Valentine’s Day repertoire, featuring Michael Henderson and on the album, my dearly departed too-soon via self-deliverance, diva friend Phyllis Hyman. I’ll never forget the time she came up to me and introduced herself  at a “welcome to WBLS” party thrown in my honor at the NYC nightclub “70-West”.  I was sittting there by myself, “hiding” in plain sight but away from the action with my beverage, when suddenly this voluptuous hand appeared in-front of my face.  When I looked up, it was the first time I saw a “diva'”, square-shouldered in a black cape and matching chapeau, looming over me as she said in a kind of deep voice for a woman,”Hye, I’m Phyllis and you are…?” [she knew of course].   We always had fun with the lyric, “And don’t you come to soon” on “Starship” I wonder if he meant that kind of “coming” to this day? Other cuts on “Starship” of-note are his version of the Stylistics’ “Betcha By Golly Wow” (with Phyllis shining and Gary Bartz on sax solo) and “Bubbles” which I liked to use as a bed while doing PSAs, promos and other, sometimes “non-commercial”, announcements.

For me this Valentine’s Day compares with none of my past two score-plus-more!  I found my mirror/other-half/soul-mate in 2010, and we are now looking forward to that first in-person meeting this spring! C’monn, passport!  Isn’t “the future” wondeful!?  As Norman Conners put it on the last “Starship” cut, “The Creator Has A Master Plan**(Peace) – written by Pharoh Sanders and Leon Thomas.  “Happy Valentine’s Day, week, month, year and life!”

This is my 100th blog post since beginning this wordy journey in November of 2009.  A momentous occasion that I share with the Green Bay Packers’ victory on Super Bowl Sunday, so I will commemorate this occasion with some thoughts and realizations that are running through my brain, beginning with the question, WHY is PBS, NBC news and whoever else acting like one of our dead Presidents, Ronald Reagan, is still alive in the physical world?  This blog is alive at one-hundred; Reagan is not. I don’t want the notariety – I give it to myself, lol.  No other past President gets this treatment, and there are plenty who were better at it than Reagan in the modern era and historically in the USA!  OMG. Why are they promoting “Ronald Reagan at 100” as if this, the first-ever real “acting President” (just another Hollywood role for him)  is still around?  WTF?

They don’t do this with John F. Kennedy, who was hands-down much better a President on his “birthday” – in fact I don’t even know when JFK’s birthday is, even though it is just an search away; even Eisenhower was a better republican and President; how about Lyndon Johnson?  Why not dig-up Nixon’s Capricorn birthday?  How old is he now?  Who appointed Ronnie Reagan the greatest President of all time? Silly network News Directors, that is who.   This is television News Director bias, and it shows that with all the other stuff that we can “celebrate” about humanity, these people are unqualified for their jobs.    

I LOVE the PBSNewshour btw; it is the best newscast and most non-sidetaking  of all.  That is why it is so bewildering for them to want to glorify a mediocre President like Reagan.  Speaking of Presidents, having President Obama blend into the mediocrity of his predicessors in office proves one thing for sure: NO President, no matter the color of skin, gender or mindset can effect real change under the present circumstances and rules.  Corporations, especially technological ones, are the real pushers of our collective “envelope”.  Why?  Term Limits.  Once they were enacted, they sealed the fateful deal visa v “democracy”.  Oh, sure, limits are wonderful if an asshole with dictatorial leanings is elected.  However, if you get a genuinely good person who is popular with the majority of Americans, the system is “fixed” so that  there is eventual gridlock guaranteed and the necessary time that a person would need to truly enact a new direction for the nation is not available.  Why doesn’t anybody in the news organizations revisit that debate instead of trying to put a mediocre President on Mount Rushmore?

I remember Reagan most for breaking the air traffic controllers union, and starting us on a path of union-busting and industry deregulation that we are still paying for with something called unemployment!  My late father used to say that “Reagan enacts laws upon the backs of those who can least afford them…”  Prophecy fulfilled, Dad.  Reagan ignored Black Americans and other minorities as if we would just “go away” magically.  There are plenty of ordinary global citizens who are one-hundred years old, who deserve more kudos than Ronald Reagan – obviously this is another corporate media conspiracy inspired by fans of “the gipper”, a fictional movie character, to coincide with Super Bowl Sunday.   

Pickhit: Congrats to the Green Bay Packers (who I picked, btw), my tele was quieter than ever in recent memory on a Super Sunday, however, and I missed being at my dearly departed friend Rodney’s “garagemahal” watching it (see my post “Ashes to….”); and – can we stop covering the personal lives of athletes past and present, please?  We, who have any lives of our own to manage, do not care.

Sureshot: For those of us who “cut the cable”, it was very dramatic trying to find a stable stream of the Super Bowl game. I heard that if you searched for, an emblem and badge from Homeland Security appeared with the words “this domain has been seized…” Wow! Why did they  comandeer them?  Hmmm, people watched games there all season, why now?  Maybe the greedy misguided Grinch, “Mr. Roger” (Goodell), made a phone call?  Upon leaving church early this afternoon, the world had the feel of it seriously losing it’s grip.  Several people died in January; two women who were close to me, including one of my two remaining Aunts on Mum’s side.  Serious sadness among the madness.

World Premiere: My informal “poll” of the Egyptian tobacco/lottery/beer store owners in this city says NONE of them want to see Mubarak leave, and that the USA should stay out of events there.  They tell me that this whole scenario is a ploy to install a bin Laden sympathizer “government” so that they can surround Israel,  challenge the Saudis and then export the  ideology of the whole world adopting their version of the muslim religion.  You heard it here first. If I were President, we’d return to a version of “isolationism” that I learned in  my ninth grade Social Studies class for a while.  Take a deep breath, y’all.   Peace.

I like to cook good, tasty balanced meal treats and at my bachelor pad, any night is “gourmet night”!  Sometimes people ask me if I cook every night, and my response is something like, “Well, there is nobody else here to do it, lol” In 2011 that will change, and I have found a woman who is just as eager for me to share delectables from my culture as I am to try those from hers – the beauty of international mating!  Coincidentally, the sprouts were originally a medicinal delicacy from Brussels that Belgians at-large adopted as the culinary pioneers brought them to the “new world” way back when they thought the world flat. 

 It is always amusing that some people still feign surprise when a man likes to cook and does it well.  I saw a comment in a recent thread about how President Obama doesn’t like beets (I used to dislike  them too, until I learned how to “pickle” them to keep them from turning all the other food on my plate RED, lol) to the effect of how this person just “hates” Brussel sprouts and I wondered, how retarded their taste buds are?  I mean, like how can you “hate” on those cute little cabbages that if steamed just right, maybe with a pinch or clove of garlic and or some sautéed onions and butter/olive oil will just melt in your mouth with very few chews?  I like mine just a wee bit on the fresh, slightly crunchy side (all the vitamins are still very alive that way), but even if you overcook them or eat them as leftovers a day later, they are still very delightful little buggers!

My Mum used to make them for us as part of her regular leafy veggie rotation of collard, turnip and mustard greens, kale (Oh, I LOVE the way it smells while cooking – just add a pork hock or turkey wing for seasoning with some white or red wine and/or organic veggie broth!), spinach, broccoli, italian and french cut green beans,peas, okra (which I don’t care for because it is “slimy”) and occasional asparagus, (which I have to admit that I grew into appreciating as an adult). I think my Dad liked Brussel sprouts  and thought they were “classy” otherwise Mum wouldn’t have fixed them as he could be finicky (didn’t like garlic, for example). 

I will admit that the fresh organic kind are not very attractive, like artichokes or asparagus aren’t.  That is why I defer to the frozen kinds, even though the slightly thorny-looking fresh ones, with just a little more kitchen “work”, are just as pleasant on the dinner table.

pickhitt: Pres. Obama’s fave green vege must be “Barackoli”! LMAO!!

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