Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Fred: Whine About Something Meaningful


Why, Fred, are you whining about Iraq and the bleeding of our dead troops (1700 killed so far) there? Do you have an ox being gored in the Iraq mess? No, I didn’t think so.

Stop your sniveling long enough to compare our Iraq and Afghanistan losses with our losses in Vietnam and Korea (over 50,000 each), and our losses in WWII (hundreds of thousands). By comparison, TWAT (“The War Against Terror”) is a day at Boy Scout camp, thanks to our superior weapons, unlimited budget, and the prickly resolve of Wubyuh.

I watched George make his comments on TV last night, and I agreed with him before he spoke a word. The strategy is now and has been crystal clear. Tough it out while we build up the Iraqi ability to defend their country against insurgents, include them in the fight, and avoid sending more troops over there than necessary. Then pull-the-fuck out while continuing to maintain military bases and a serious presence there.

Why stay there?

You don’t think our need for military in the MidEast will diminish after Iraq is strong enough to handle their own insurgency problems, do you? Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Jordan, Yemen, and the entire Arabian peninsula are still run by Muslim dictators of one stripe or another, and none of them are friendly to America, although Jordan’s Hussein still puts on a good face. We’ll need to be there for another couple of centuries. And wisely so, as demonstrated by our 60 years of peaceful relations with Japan and Germany.

If you want to bitch about something meaningful, try these:

  1. The Bush administration has no plans to force the a heavy excise tax on Iraqi oil to repay Americans for the excessively high price of petroleum products and for the necessity of entering Afghanistan and Iraq to begin with.
  1. Iraq is an endogamous, tribal society beleaguered by an oppressive religio-political Islamic culture, and that is the reason its people do not follow national leaders and tend to resort to Mafia-like system of social justice. The terrorist-style murders by Al Quaeda operatives and recruits, and the Islamic training schools are products of that system and typical of Islamic states everywhere, supported by endogamy. Why? Because marrying nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, and uncles forces people to be clannish or tribal, and to answer to tribal leaders over national authorities. This is one of the reasons Muslim states loose wars against true nations (for example, it is the reason tiny Israel kicked the asses of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan twice) – tribal leaders are made colonels and generals, and when they fall in battle, their troops go home rather than fight for another tribe’s leader. Saddam Hussein was nothing more or less than a tribal leader, just as the heads of the tribe of Saud are the leaders of Saudi Arabia, and the leaders of other tribes run the various Emirates of the Arabian Peninsula. In order to make Iraqis follow national rather than tribal leaders, and in order to diminish the Mafia sub culture of Iraq, secular authorities must pass laws prohibiting endogamy, and they should encourage mixed breeding with people from other lands.
  1. American GIs are discouraged from mingling with Iraqis, partly because they do not speak Arabic. Instead, they should be encouraged to impregnate as many Iraqi women as possible. This will help to reduce the anti-American sentiments of future Iraqis. The French did a similar thing after WWI to Germany, albeit for a more sinister reason. They quartered black Moroccan troops in Germany and encouraged them to impregnate as many blonde German women as possible, as though any encouragement was needed. The main reason for this was to humiliate and punish Germans. History shows the practice (along with others intended to demean, punish, and humiliate Germany) backfired, for Hitler rose to prominence mostly because he promised Germans an end to the humiliation and the rebuilding of national and racial pride. The practice, in our case, would have a much more benign motive – to promote peaceful relations between nations.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Pepper Mash

Hot Pepper Mash (I'm fond of habaneros, scotch bonnets, and jalapenos) is mashed or ground up hot peppers, which are then fermented both to preserve them and to add flavor while reducing fresh vegetable harshness. Sauce makers use pepper mash as a base ingredient for hot sauce, ice cream, fudge, and so on. A little dab will do it, since the mash is 90% or more peppers, and fermenting does not diminish the heat.

The trick is to get the peppers to ferment in spite of relatively low sugar content, let them age, and to do so without refrigerating them or adding vinegar or chemical preservatives.

Koreans do this with cabbage (mixed with other veggies, fish sauce, and so on) and call it Kim Chi. Some pepper mashers suggest adding Kim Chi as starter. I don't bother. The technique I use is to add 10% pickling salt to the ground peppers, add a little vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to retard mold, and let the mash sit loosely covered to bubble away. Sometimes a little water must be added to keep the solids from direct exposure to air.

The solids tend to trap gas bubbles and rise. To prevent discoloration and mold, it is ideal to keep the solids submerged. When fermenting mash in a straight-sided vessel like a crock, it is best to set a plate that is slightly smaller that the crock diameter into the crock, then set a sealed plastic bag containing 3 or 4 pounds of brine on top of that. Thus, the gas bubbles will escape around the edges of the plate and never be exposed directly to air.

The fermentation is mostly finished within 6 weeks. Some mashers, Like McIlhenny, the makers of the world-famous Avery Island Louisiana Tabasco sauce, leave the mash in wooden casks up to 2 or 3 years to age and take on the flavor of the cask. Frankly, I don't care for Tabasco sauce that much, and I think the aging is pretty much a waste of time.

In spite of this, I have some mash that fermented for 9 months in glass jars, and I like the taste better than 6-week ferment. Ideally, I think mash should ferment for at least 3 months, for it does gather a richness of flavor, up to a point, as time goes by.

Last weekend I took 50 pounds of mash, packed in 96 half-pint jars, to a local pepper festival, and sold jars for $10 each under the brand name of "Jugito's Magma Hot Pepper Mash", coming home with 22 unsold. I was the only one selling mash. It was a fun event.

Members of the local Dunedin Brewer's Guild bought more mash than any other group. One of the guilders, a home brewer, went home, made a batch of fudge with my mash in it, and brought a slab back to me. It was tasty, and the heat was sneaky, noticeable only after chewing a bit. It was my first hot pepper fudge.

I had planned to enter some mash into the amateur pepper sauce and salsa competition, but the rules would not allow exhibitors to enter. I had already made up a batch of award-winning salsa, and it was too much for me and Maria, so I gave most of it away to neighbors.

I had also made a brand new sauce I dubbed "Smokey Peppamato." It contains Scotch Bonnet, Habanero, and Jalapeno pepper mashes, ground chipotle peppers (smoked jalapenos), lime juice, the extracted juices of smoke-roasted tomatoes and bell peppers cooked down with cilantro, and Bragg's apple cider vinegar. It is warm and delicious.