Friday, June 25, 2010

Not a cure for insomnia, but....

A few years ago, I started waking up in the night.  Not for any special reason, just for the hell of it, so to speak.
What to do?  Roll over, close eyes, try to sleep again.  No luck.
Don't start thinking!  That will just lead to worried insomnia.
Get up?  Uh uh.  Don't want to do that.  What if I get sleepy and I'm not in my bed?
Can't read.  Can't turn on the TV.  Can't really do anything without disturbing Left Brain's sleep.
Listen to my Ipod!  But I don't want to listen to music, that just wakes me up more.

What's a podcast, anyway?  Hmmmm.

And that was the beginning of my love affair with late-night listening.  Now, I have to know that my Ipod is right there, ready to grab if I should wake up, which unfortunately, I still do from time to time. 

And I've found some really wonderful listening is to be had,  and free!

Some of my favorites:
Persiflagers Infectious Disease Puscast- Dr. Mark Crislip of Portland talks about recent literature in his speciality, Infectious Disease.  Now, you might think that this  really must be boring, but no!  If you have any interest in medicine and disease, which I do, it's just plain fascinating, and if I don't always get the arcane language and technical jargon, I get enough to get the gist of what's been studied, and it's fascinating!   Dr. Crislip is funny and gives it just enough personality to keep you coming back.  Also, his voice is soothing in an odd way and after a while of being half interested and entertained, off to sleep you go!  Another way to enjoy Dr. Crisplip's wit and voice is to listen to the QuackCast, wherein he debunks the frauds and pseudo-science of Alternative Medicine.  I wish I could get more people to listen to this and stop supporting SCAMS!
PRI Selected Shorts-  Live performances of great short stories, read by actors.  Wonderful!
This American Life- Another great program from Public Radio International, this show takes a theme and people tell true stories that amplify and elucidate that particular theme, in depth.  Hard to describe, but once you listen, you'll be hooked.  Funny, informative, thought and discussion -provoking themes every week.  I save these for when I take a walk; they usually run about 45 minutes.
The Moth- Another idea that is hard to describe.  People get up in front of an audience and tell stories, without notes. Usually about 10 minutes long.  Not that these stories aren't rehearsed, you don't hear anyone hemming and hawing, but they are told in a personal way about all kinds of situations in life, funny ones, sad, stories with lessons, sometimes about extraordinary people or events.  I've heard a few I wish I'd never bothered with, but most are very good and some I listen to more than once. An Englishwoman talks about her garden and gardening.  Very informative, but the thing is, she just has the loveliest, most melodic voice and phrasing, and I just adore listening to her. Very sleep inducing, and I mean that in the nicest possible way.
The Survival Podcast- Jack Spirko wants us all to be self-reliant and ready to face whatever comes our way.  His topics range from world economy to canning green beans and which shotgun we should have. He'll tell you how to store food for emergencies and how to plan an escape to a B.O.L. (bug-out-location).  He'll talk about squash bugs.  I love it.  I think I inherited the survival gene from my grandmother,  who never could have enough food "put away",  and I want to be prepared for anything that comes down the pike.  Jack tends to get a little over-excited, but you can't fault the man for his passion and downright smarts.  For someone who is self-educated, he knows an awful lot about a lot of things, and has common sense as well.  I do have to skip the long intro, though.  I understand he has to do it, but it gets old.

I have other podcasts that I listen to, and I'm open to suggestions, but if you are interested, this is a good place to start.  It's certainly better than laying awake and "stewing".

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mazatlan Smoked Marlin Dip

In Mazatlan, Mexico, there is a famous old restaurant called "The Shrimp Bucket" on the malecon- the avenue that runs along the sea-wall.  Many a shrimp and a margarita have been consumed there out on the front porch, happily gazing at the Pacific Ocean.  It's still a wonderful place to go.
They have an appetizer there, usually served in a leaf of a purple cabbage, and with delicious freshly cooked tostadas (see prior post) that I just love.  So naturally, I went about getting myself some smoked marlin and re-creating it.
Now, I'm not sure how this works, but it seems that the smoked "marlin" that one buys in Mazatlan may not be marlin, but tuna.  As you can see on the package that I bought, it says Marlin y Atun Ahumado.  Marlin and Tuna Smoked.  So I suppose they must not be discernably different in taste or texture.  I'd sure like to know more about this.  However, to continue...

Smoked Marlin/Tuna Dip
1/2 kilo or 1+ pounds of smoked fish
1/2 block of cream cheesse
1/2 c. good mayonaise
1/2 c. sour cream
juice of 1 lime
1T. soy sauce
1T. worchestershire sauce
3T sweet pickle relish
1T hot sauce or 1 chipotle jalapeno adobo
1 tsp. thai fish sauce (optional)
Place all in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth.

This is delicious and unusual.  Sit back and enjoy people saying "What is this?"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tostadas, The Real Deal

You might remember I told you that I think pre-made taco shells are nasty.  And if you've ever eaten freshly fried corn tortillas that are known around here as tostadas (in some places  totopos) that are crisp and warm and salty, you know that Doritos are a cheap (tasting) and much inferior substitute.  So what's it going to be, steak or baloney?  Eggs or Eggbeaters? Rasberries or fruit roll-ups? Okay, enough already.  You get it.
First you need some corn tortillas.  With tortillas, fresh is always better.  However if they've been in your fridge for a while they are still better than you-know-what.
This is a 5lb. bag of corn tortillas.  It cost $3.89.  I'm going to fry up this whole bag of tortillas for a party.   Look how much this makes!
You're going to want to get the thinnest tortillas you can find for this job.
You will also need some oil. Well, OK, a lot of oil.  I've gotten to be a big fan of  peanut oil for frying.  It has a very high smoke point, has a very neutral/pleasant taste, and since it has mostly monounsaturated fat it is better for your heart.  I used about a half gallon for this, because it was a big ol' stack of tortillas.  That's about $6.00 worth of peanut oil.
Use a heavy dutch oven with high sides, or a deep fryer.  This is a lot of oil that will be dangerously hot, so protect yourself.  Also get a big tray, sheet pan, or some other receptacle to put the cooked tostadas on, and line it with lots of paper.  You can use paper towels, or brown paper bags, or even newsprint. Or you could let it drain on a rack.   I used the brown paper I keep around for this purpose.
I recommend cutting  the tortillas into 8ths.   Quarters are too big for bite-size.
Get your oil hot, hot, hot but not smoking.  Then take about 20 tortilla eighths and separate them by bending the chunk like this,

and then layering them on your fry scooper or some other implement.    Put them in the oil gently and then, gently stir the pot and separate the tostadas.   Don't go splashing hot oil around!  
When you see your tostadas are turning brown on the edges, scoop them out, let them drain over the pot a minute, then put them down on the paper.  If your grease is hot enough, the oil will run right out of them and there will be very little oil left in the chip.  
Sprinkle a little salt on each batch and taste one.  Come on, isn't that about a kajillion times better than one of those proccessed things made out of who knows what?  I'd say.