Suzanne and I went out to dinner the other night. That’s becoming a tragically repetitive term nowadays. I can’t wait to have access to an actual kitchen once again. It’s cool to do the fine dining thing every now and then but we’re on a record pace for eating out going into our third week up in the boonies. Thank goodness for per diems.
Anyway, as we were deliberating over the events of the day we looked over the menu. There were plenty of selections to choose from – for me at least. Unfortunately the Caribou is out of season so I haven’t been able to try any dishes with that in it as of yet. They were also out of Muskox as well. What remained was a variety of red meat selections like t-bone steaks and New York strip loins. So I ended up settling on a Seafood Fettuccine.
When the waiter eventually brought my dish by I caught something out of the corner of my eye – a dirty glance from a older dude sitting across the way. He was feasting down on his bloody steak but managed to cast a somewhat disappointed glare at me for choosing what I assume to be an “unmanly” dish in his opinion. It’s not the first time I’ve received perplexing looks from people regarding some of my choices in life. Often people think it’s a compromise on my part because of my diabetic, bunny-hugging vegetarian wife but quite the contrary I make my choices because they’re what I like or want to do. So I present to you reasons why I’m not a man (apparently):
- I don’t care about cars nor do I know a thing about them – Yes ladies and gentlemen the son of an A Level mechanic has absolutely no interest in cars. About the only car I like is the Ford Mustang. Don’t ask what model. The one with the cool grill and makes a lot of noise.
- I don’t like beer – Oh yeah. Let the Canadians, Irish and Germans loose on me. I said it and I’m not taking it back. I can’t stand the taste of beer. It’s awful. It’s carbonated piss. I can understand if it were sweet or something but for the most part it’s bitter and disgusting. I do drink beer though (thank you peer pressure). Heck I can even drink a few people under the table. That doesn’t mean I like it. I like fitting in more than how it tastes and considering I’m in the land of the suds, I have to adapt to my surroundings.
- I don’t like beef – Yup. That’s right. Red meat just turns my stomach. I used to eat steak and what not many years ago but not anymore. Give me the choice between a thick, juicy steak and a grilled chicken the bird wins hands down. Chicken, pork, fish… pretty much anything that isn’t beef I’ll devour. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll put down a burger every now and then but you’ll never see me go gah gah over there being a strip loin on a menu.
- I like to cook – Apparently in some Cro-magnon circles it’s still considered effeminate to have skill in the kitchen despite many of the top world chefs being men.
- I listen to my woman – Yes. I actually listen to her. Listening to her doesn’t mean I do what she says like a little lap dog. It means I listen to her and know what’s going on in her mind. That way we don’t have to unnecessarily butt heads on the stupidest little matters.
- I speak nerdy and/or geeky – Seems to be that if you’re not up to speed on all your hip and trendy slang terms and wannabe-gangsta speak you’re not only uncool but some sort of wussy girly man. Oh well I apologize for not being a Twitter victim and not contributing to the dumbing down of society.
- I don’t wear logo littered clothing – Not only are your super duper cool if you wear Aeropostale, American Eagle (or any other top tier designer) clothing with their gawdy logos and branding pasted across their apparel but it puts you at the top of the alpha male hierarchy as well. While I do the bulk of my clothes shopping at Old Navy but you’ll never see me wearing any of their apparel that has their brand scrawled across any portion of it. I had always thought that fancy dressing was something the ladies did, but I guess I was wrong all these years. Looking simple and borderline grungy is apparently not dudely anymore.
- I like orchestral music – Not necessarily just the classics like Bach and Beethoven (although I do dig them very much) but more so movie soundtrack composers. Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Howard Shore, Basil Poledouris, Tyler Bates, James Horner, Michael Giacchino, Marco Beltrami. They’re all amazingly gifted composers and their music help define the movies more than the actors or director. Unfortunately if someone catches you grooving out to something like that you get the “are you gay” stares… not that there’s anything wrong with that. ;p
I tell you. If it wasn’t for the fact that I love women, porn, football, action movies and MMA I’m quite certain I’d see the torches and pitch forks of the angry mob in the distance. In any case, I am what I am and I like what I like. Perhaps if people weren’t so insecure with themselves they wouldn’t be so quick to judge.
C’est la vie.
It’s funny hearing about all the myths and misinterpretations regarding Canadians. Being a former New Yorker I too am guilty of either cracking jokes or being misinformed about at least a couple of them. I have the unique perspective of having lived on both sides of the fence of ignorance and I feel compelled to clear up the fog of confusion regarding the World’s Most Friendly Country:
- It’s always cold in Canada and everyone lives in igloos – The latter is more playful ribbing than anything but one of the most popular misconceptions is that it’s always cold in Canada. The majority of the country is along the same latitude as the United Kingdom yet you never hear any cold jokes about the Brits. Some of the northern regions are of course in the Arctic circle and tend to have rather frigid conditions but for the most part Canadians experience the same weather one would receive in any northern state in the US. In fact I can recall quite a few days just this past summer where highs Toronto beat out those in New York and Boston. Winters may last a little longer but the temperatures are pretty consistent. Here’s the averages in January from various locales across Canada:
(Source: The Weather Network)
- Vancouver, BC: 32 / 43°Fahrenheit (0 / 6°Celsius)
- Edmonton, AB: -2 / 18°F, (-19 / -8°C)
- Yellowknife, NWT: -24 / -9°F, (-31 / -23°C)
- Inukjuak, NU: -17 / -4°F, (-27 / -20°C)
- Winnipeg, MB: -9 / 10°F, (-23 / -12°C)
- Ottawa, ON: 5 / 23°F, (-15 / -5°C)
- Toronto, ON: 14 / 28°F, (-10 / -2°C)
- Montréal, QC: 7 / 23°F, (-14 / -5°C)
- Halifax, NS: 16 / 30°F, (-9 / -1°C)
- St. John’s, NF: 19 / 32°F, (-7 / 0°C)
- Canada has better beer than the States – I’m not going to touch this one for fear of being hung from the gallows by overly-patriotic Americans. Everyone is proud of their nation’s beer. Germany is probably the world’s undisputed King of the Brew but as far as who follows after is dependent on each individual’s personal taste. I for one am not a huge beer drinker (heresy I know) so it doesn’t really matter to me. All I do know is that two of the American big guns, Budweiser and Coors, taste like someone spilled their crappy beer in some club soda. Labatte Blue (known locally as just a Blue) and Molson Canadian are far stronger beers and are way easier to down – that’s just a personal opinion though. While Canada may or may not rank in the top 5 worldwide I seriously doubt they fall below the US in that category. I invite anyone from abroad to come sample the ale before making rash judgments. You’d be quite surprised with the results.
- Canada only has poutine and maple syrup as their only contributions to fine cuisine – Canada has a very diverse range of dishes that spans from coast to coast. Canada, like most large nations, is a melting pot of cultures so you can see a lot of Eastern European, South American, African and Asian influences in the cooking. Some examples of regional foods are:
- From the East Coast – Irish Stew, Fish Chowders, Bangbellies (a pork/rice bun), Toutons (Pork Bread), and Duffs (like a dumpling), Molasses Tarts and Partridge Berry Coffee Cake, chocolate bread pudding, oat bread, Cape Breton scones, Creamed Potato Balls, Baked Stuffed Lobster
- Native – Posole Stew (uses hominy), corn casserole, Frypan Fork Bread, Cornmeal pudding, Maple Fudge, Wojape (a berry pudding)
- Quebec – Crème Caramel, French Onion Soup, Split Yellow Pea Soup, Garlic Pork Pot Roast, Cipate (Chicken, meat and vegetable casserole with biscuit topping), 3 crust blueberry pie, poutine
- Ontario – Pine Nut Stuffed Quail, pickled yellow beans, apple butter, headcheese, smoked ham, creamed potatoes, vanilla pie, ice wine, BBQ’s, hot sauces, doughnuts, perogies
- Prairies (I’m not too familiar with foods from this region of Canada) – Crusted Pork Tenderloin, Wild Mushroom Barley Ragout & Summer Vegetables, Grilled Asparagus, Saskatoon Pie
- B.C. – Goats Cheese Terrine, Raisin scones with clotted cream, sablefish, Nanaimo Bars, Poached Salmon, Maple Glazed Chicken Breasts, Oysters, Flatbreads, Vegan cuisine and anything disgustingly healthy (i.e. tofu, miso soup, etc.)
- Canadians always say “eh” and “aboot” – I can honestly say that I have never heard a Canadian utter the words “aboot” in the 10+ years I’ve been here. Course I’ve only been in the Ontario region for the most part so who knows what goes on in the rest of the country. I don’t know where it came from originally but I found it funny as hell when South Park would make fun of it (even if it was confounded). “Eh” on the other hand is something you hear quite frequently though. I’ve even mastered the dialect well enough to use it like a true Canadian as well. Oddly enough it’s not used any more frequently than New Yorkers use “yo” or “aye”. Basically all I had to do to fit in was replace my yo’s with eh’s and say cah-fee instead of cawfee when referring to coffee and all is well.
- Canada has no military – I’ve always made fun of the Canadian Armed Forces having to fight with sporks but the Canadian military is no joke indeed. This one institution consists of three main branches: Maritime Command (MARCOM), Land Force Command (LFC), and Air Command (AIRCOM), which are together overseen by the Armed Forces Council, chaired by the Chief of the Defence Staff. Their annual funding comes to approximately $21.8 billion (ranked 13th), and are presently ranked 74th in size compared to the world’s other armed forces by number of total personnel, and 58th in terms of active personnel, standing at a strength of roughly 67,000, plus 26,000 reservists, 33 warships spread out amongst 2 fleets, 391 aircraft (which is the third largest in the Americas) and over 3600 currently deployed in the Middle East. The statistics are truly humbling and I tip my hat to all those men and women across the world who are serving for their respective countries. It’s a thankless task but your efforts are truly appreciated by many.
- Canadians are always nice – True to an extent. Every country has their fare share of assholes, douches and idiots. You tend to find them once you’ve lived there for a while. Canada just does a good job of not letting them be the face of the country.
- Canada has no contributions to science – Blasphemy. In fact Canada has burned a trail in many fields and is a world leader in regards to contributions to scientific advancement. From Canola Oil to the Blackberry Canada has had it’s hands in the development of many of the technologies and medical breakthroughs we take for granted. I could probably ramble on for days about all of the innovations but if you’re really interested have a peek here and see for yourself.
- Canada has no film industry – It’s hard to find a movie or TV show that isn’t shot in Vancouver or Toronto nowadays. Chances are if it’s shot in Canada, it has some Canadian actors in it as well. They’ve assimilated into Hollywood so well that many of you don’t even realize some of the best stars are in fact Canadian. From Playboy’s Pam Anderson to Star Trek’s William Shatner Canadians have infiltrated all facets of media. Okay so Keanu isn’t the greatest star ever, but you all ate the Matrix up with a fork and spoon so he did his job.The actual Canadian film industry is a budding one. It makes me laugh whenever I hear Canadians say “Yup, that’s definitely a Canadian film” having only seen a few minutes of whatever is on. It’s not from lack of effort. Despite many film and television projects being funded by the government, it nowhere near the same league as Hollywood in regards to financial backing. The Toronto International Film Festival, founded in 1976, l is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world now. In 1998, Variety magazine acknowledged that “the Festival is second only to Cannes in terms of high-profile pics, stars and market activity.” If you think Canadians haven’t got their fingers on the pulse of the movie industry, you’re sorely mistaken.
- Everyone speaks French in Canada – While that may be true to a degree in Quebec, the majority of the country does in fact speak English – well. In fact most Canadians are bi-lingual.
- Canada’s national sport is hockey – True. In 1994, the Federal Government introduced Bill C-212 that officially made hockey Canada’s National Winter sport and Lacrosse Canada’s National Summer sport. Canadians are definitely passionate about their hockey but don’t believe for an instant that is the only sport accepted up here. Baseball, Football (American and Soccer), Golf, Curling, Boxing and MMA as well as pretty much any winter sport you can imagine from skiing to snowboarding.
- Canadians have no guns or crime – Oh there’s crime here, believe me. And guns. Domestic violence and Robbery/burglary crimes seem to be the most prevalent. There are probably more guns in Canada than in the States based on the fact that this is a hunting nation with the vast majority of the country being wilderness. The big difference is that Canadians aren’t shooting one another. Their preferred methods tend to be fists and knives. It still strikes me as odd to read about small businesses being robbed at knife-point. You don’t hear about that much in New York.
- All Canadian cops are mounties – That’s probably as ignorant as it gets. The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) is the national police force of Canada, and one of the most recognized of its kind in the world. It is unique in the world as a national, federal, provincial and municipal policing body. The RCMP provides federal policing service to all of Canada and policing services under contract to the three territories, eight provinces (the RCMP does not serve as provincial or municipal police in Ontario and Quebec), more than 190 municipalities, 184 Aboriginal communities and three international airports. They’re like the Feds in the States. Every province has their own police service such as the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) which are the equivalent of state government agencies such as the NYPD or LAPD. The RCMP have jurisdiction over them all. Cool, eh?
- Toronto is the nation’s capitol – With over 2.5 million residents, it is the fifth most populous municipality in North America. I think the popular misconception is that Toronto is in fact the capitol of Ontario. Ottawa, the second largest city in Ontario, is the nation’s capitol.
My name is Ian and I am proud to call myself an AmeriCan. 😀
This might seem strange coming from a life long New York Giants fan, but I actually want to help the Dallas Cowboys. Now I’m sure there are a lot of die hard Cowboy fans out there who will vilify me and this post but it’s time to stop pussyfooting around the subject.
The Cowboys are overrated.
It’s true. No team in professional sports today has been as over-hyped in recent years, have failed expectations consistently, and yet continue to dominate the sports news wires as the favorites to win it all. I’ve never seen any organization receive so much hype for doing nothing. I know we’re only 1 game into the season but once again the only thing America’s Team succeeds in doing is disappointing. Not to take anything away from the Washington Redskins, the Cowboys supposedly should have won that game. Instead, mental mistakes and lack of focus cost them a win.
Talent-wise they are stacked to the gill. Some even argue that there is more talent on both sides of the ball than even their championship squads of the early-mid 90’s. I choose to not even delve into that claim any further because it was a different game then. Different rules. Different players. It’s foolish to compare. That was a perfect storm of coaches, players and ownership that isn’t easily replicated. Let’s just leave it that they have an abundance of ability with this most recent incarnation.
So what’s the problem?
The club has been one of the most recognizable names in pro football for decades. A powerhouse by all standards. Long time coach Tom Landry had a lot to do with that. You don’t get to coach the same team for 29 seasons by not accomplishing anything. Unfortunately times change and when Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989 he chose to go a different direction with the team. Many of Mr. Jones’ actions have been questioned over the years. This isn’t going to be a lets-bash-Jerry-Jones post by any means. Let’s just look at what the facts state:
- Under Tom Landry (1960 – 1988)
- Championship 1971
- Championship 1977
- Under Jimmie Johnson (1989 – 1993)
- Championship 1992
- Championship 1993
- Under Barry Switzer (1994 – 1997)
- Championship 1995
- Under Chan Gailey (1998 – 1999)
- Under Dave Campo (2000 – 2002)
- Under Bill Parcells (2003 – 2006)
- Under wade Phillips ( 2007 – present)
I am fully aware that the Cowboys have plenty of divisional championships throughout the 16 years since their last championship win but this is unfortunately a league where the only recognizable accomplishment is winning the Super Bowl. Anything less is considered a novelty. What good is winning the division if you fail in the playoffs? As a Giants fan I’m all too familiar with playoff failure so I know the frustration.
So why do they fail?
It can be any number of reasons. A lot of fingers point towards Jerry Jones for being too involved in the teams football operations as owner and GM. He’s often criticized for his all too visible presence on and off the field but let’s be real here… I can’t blame the guy. If I had the luxury of owning an NFL team I sure as hell would have my dirty little fingers in everything because it’s my team. That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s a good thing. Case in point is Al Davis, owner and GM of the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders used to be good… many, many, many years ago in the mystical time of John Madden. Unfortunately Al Davis is old school with an old school way of thinking and managing the team. His mindset is stuck in the 70’s and hasn’t adapted to modern times. As a result he pigeon-holes his coaching staffs into mediocrity. Until he comes to the realization that he needs to change so that his team can change, the Raiders will continue to fail.
Perhaps that’s the paradox that the Cowboys face right now? They had a winning formula back in the early 90’s. Mr. Jones was the owner/GM and every bit as involved with his club’s operations as he is now. Maybe just maybe Mr. Jones is still trying to do things the 90’s way in present times. Who knows? If that’s the case then the Cowboys will continue to disappoint until people finally come to the realization that they’re just not that good. We’ve seen teams stockpile talent before and fail miserably regardless. Look at the Redskins. Owner Daniel Snyder believed for years that he could spend his way to a Super Bowl by signing high priced aging players. It took a few abysmal seasons and a who’s who list of coaches before he realized that his involvement in the day-today operations was detrimental to his team. In 2009 he hired Bruce Allen as GM and left the team management to him and new coach Mike Shanahan. It remains to be seen whether or not this will pan out well for them but they have the pieces in place to progress the franchise. Leave football to the football people. That seems to be the mantra he’s adopted now.
Some can argue that Jimmie Johnson was the x-factor in Dallas’ championship runs. The team enjoyed its greatest success in the modern age under his control. Although Barry Switzer did win a championship after Johnson resigned, he inherited that team and ran it into the ground (much like Gruden did with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Jimmie Johnson never reached that pinnacle during any of his other coaching stints but was successful nonetheless. Maybe the ultimate answer is to have the unthinkable happen. Have Jones and Johnson kiss and make up and try to make another run at it. That’s not likely to ever happen though.
Personally I think Wade Phillips has caused the team to take steps backwards. Dallas was on the up-and-up until he came along. His demeanor doesn’t fit the Dallas persona. The Cowboys are intense and full of bravado. Wade just comes off as a wishy-washy little yes man who does whatever Jerry Jones says to do. The Cowboys don’t need that. They need a coach who’ll have the balls to put an owner in his place like a Bill Cowher. I imagine that relationship would be as tumultuous as a badger and a wolverine being locked in the same room, but I guarantee you the ‘Boys would go further than a divisional round elimination.
I hope the Dallas Cowboys find their way eventually. I used to respect the organization back in the Aikman-Irvin-Smith days because they were bad ass and earned every bit of that moniker. Heck I hope they prove me wrong this season and make me eat crow by winning a championship finally. Chances are they will now that I’ve publicly called them out yet again. Deep down though, I know they won’t. The coach lacks the killer instinct therefore the team will always fall short. They’ll blame Romo. They’ll blame the offensive line. They’ll blame everyone and anyone except who deserves to be blamed. This is the make-or-break season though. It’s been over a decade of false hope, broken promises and lofty expectations. When will the media stop rewarding and praising failure?
Never I guess.
So long as Jerry Jones keeps his publicity monster well fed, the Cowboys will never be acknowledged as being overrated. I just love the cruel irony that even the lowly, less talented New York Football Giants were able to make 2 Super Bowl appearances (and actually win one) during the time when Dallas was (and is) considered to be the team to beat. They even managed to defeat the unbeatable New England Patriots.
Go figure. 😉
In honor of the NFL season officially kicking off tonight with the NFC Championship rematch between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings, I present to thee my Super Bowl Chili. Yeah yeah… I know the Super Bowl isn’t until February 6th but chili is chili. Besides, the only reason it’s called Super Bowl Chili is because (you guessed it) I make it every year around Super Bowl time. Go figure.
Vegetarians beware. This isn’t for the faint of heart.
Also if you’re not a fan of some heat then you’d probably want to halve the amount of hot spices. ;p
Dry Spice Blend
¼ cup chili powder
¼ cumin powder
4 tbsp paprika (smoked if you have it)
2 tbsp dry mustard
4 tbsp oregano
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp black pepper
500ml – 800ml beer (Doesn’t matter what type. I tend use two Coronas or Heineken from a standard six-pack)
1 can (796 ml or so) crushed or diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
2 cans (540 ml or so) beans (black and/or red kidney work well)
1 large white or Spanish onion (diced)
2 bell peppers (diced – yellow or orange preferred but any will work)
2 Jalapeno peppers (seeded and diced)
2 cups sliced Cremini mushrooms
3 cloves garlic (minced)
½ pound ground beef (or chicken if you’re not a beef fan)
½ pound ground pork
½ pound stewing beef
½ cup sugar (brown is preferred but white works as well)
1 cup cilantro (minced)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter (or margarine)
1 tbsp flour
Optional: shredded cheddar
Optional: sour cream
Melt butter and add flour. Mix well and set aside for later. This is a roux that we’ll be using later to thicken the chili
In a large pot on medium-high heat add the vegetable oil and dry spices. Heat them through till fragrant. Heating the spices through is an old Indian practice when cooking that helps wake up the flavors.
Add the onions, garlic, and bell peppers and cook till softened slightly and moisture is nearly gone. Stir frequently. (about 5 – 8minutes). Don’t worry we’ll be re-hydrating everything shortly.
Add the beer and bring to a boil.
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, beans and hot sauce, chillies, mushrooms and sugar. Bring to a rolling boil.
Add the ground meat and stewing beef. Turn the heat down to low and cover. Let it simmer for about an 1 ½ – 2 hrs. Stir occasionally. Some recommend browning the meat off before dumping it in but it will cook, tenderize and absorb a ton of the flavor this way.
Add cilantro and roux. Stir and let simmer uncovered for another 20 – 25 minutes.
Serve hot topped with cheddar cheese or sour cream.
Alt: This isn’t a vegetarian by any stretch but probably can be adapted to suit a tree-biter by omitting the meaty nasties. Since most soy products are ‘cooked’ already (such as their ground beef) you don’t need to cook the ‘meat’ for as long. Cut the 2 hr simmering time out and just proceed to the last step. Different beans make for different textures and tastes. I recommend a nice six bean blend (found in most grocery stores) so you can have a nice variety. I only recommend Cremini mushrooms because of their size. Virtually any mushroom can be used so long as you cut it to an appropriate size comparable to the rest of the ingredients. Button mushrooms can be dropped in whole if you’re feeling lazy. ;p