Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dublin Coddle

1lbs of large pork sausages preferably Irish bangers                                      Serves 6
8oz sliced bacon cut into 2in pieces
3 onions sliced
1 and 1/2 lbs boiling potatoes peeled and sliced
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Prick the sausage with a fork
3. Put the sausage and bacon in a sauce pan adding enough water to cover
4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until slightly tender about 10 minutes
5. Drain, reserving the liquid and skim off the fat
6. In a large dutch oven layer the sausages, bacon, onions, and potatoes sprinkling each layer with pepper and parsley
7. Pour the reserved liquid over to barely cover
8. Cover with a sheet of waxed paper then the casserole lid and bake until potatoes are tender, usually about 1 hour. Serve hot.

Glazed bacon with red currant sauce

Here's one of many Irish recipes that I will be adding to the site for all to enjoy. Glazed bacon (ham) with red currant sauce is a fairly easy dish and believe me it tastes fantastic! So without any more delay lets get down to business shall we.               

3lbs. smoked shoulder                                                     Serves 4-6
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2/3 cup reserved boiling liquid

1. Place smoked shoulder in a large pan and cover with boiling water
2. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to a simmer
3. Cook until fork tender about 60-75 minutes skimming the foam occasionally
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and transfer shoulder to a roasting pan
5. Strain and reserve boiling liquid, cut off the rind and score the fat
6. Combine the mustard and brown sugar in a bowl and spread over the meat
7. Add 2/3 cup of the boiling liquid to the roasting pan and bake for 20 minutes adding more if needed
8. Transfer to a serving plate and keep warm

Red Currant Sauce
2/3 cup boiling liquid
2 tablespoons red currant jelly
2 tablespoons port wine
2 tablespoons fresh red currants (optional)

1. Pour the 2/3 cup boiling liquid into a small sauce pan
2. Add jelly, port, and red currants if you have them
3. Cook over a medium heat until thick, usually about 10 minutes
4. To serve slice the meat and pour sauce over it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Happy Anniversary to Me

 Today is the 1 year anniversary of an event that was painful at the time and that changed my  life more than I could have ever foreseen. 1 year ago today I was injured on the job. I won't go into all the details but I was working in Kuwait, took a bad fall and tore my Achilles tendon, broke my foot and ripped the heads out of two of my three calf muscles. It took nine months of treatment and therapy for me to walk unassisted but I walk.

This accident ultimately cost me my job and forced me to leave the Middle East. I came to the Philippines rather than return to the U.S. because the little saving that my wife and I had would last much longer here, my wife had family here, and, to be honest, because I love being in the Philippines.

Even at Filipino prices money does eventually run out and I started needing some way to support myself. My wife can work but I was never a man to do nothing. Being on crutches or canes made finding a job near impossible and I had started to despair ever being fruitful again until my wife looked at me one night and asked "Didn't you tell me you always wanted to be a writer?". It was true, when I was younger, I had wanted to write but as with many dreams, life had gotten in the way. Her opinion was this was God way of giving me a second chance at that dream.

Taking the long and making it short, I started writing. This blog was first and it is still my baby but it didn't pay. Still needing income I looked for other places to write. I found one site that promised a lot but delivered very little, other than a chance to practice. Looking back now I needed the practice bad. If you read my early post here you will see how much I needed practice.

Next I found a site I could submit to but everything had to go through editors. This was my first experience being edited and it was scary learning but I learned from their criticism. Best part this site offered a writing academy. Free education should never be passed up and I learned even more.

Now, I can say I am a professional writer. This blog still doesn't pay the bills but I publish enough articles (over 400 so far) to keep food on the table and lights burning. Much of what I write gets someone else's name on it but I don't mind. Thanks to a bad fall and a good wife, I am living a dream I had given up on long ago. I am a writer. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

End Violence against Women; Ring the Bell

A white ribbon to commemorate the National Day...
A white ribbon to commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Right-to-life Awareness. White Ribbon. فارسی: روبان سفید، نماد بین‌المللی آگاهی و توجه به مبارزه با خشونت علیه زنان است. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This will be an unusual post for a blog normally dedicated to food and food related issues but this is a subject that needs to be discussed and a movement that needs attention from everyone. The "Ring the Bell" campaign to end violence against women (VAW).

I have long been vocal in my stand against domestic violence but have just recently become aware of this campaign. Ring the Bell, ask men to make a promise to do their part, in some way, to end violence against women. How they will help fight, is up to each individual person. Some men have promised to give money to their local Woman's Shelter, others to simple talk to their friends on the subject. I promised to raise awareness through my writing. This post is the first step in keeping that promise.

It is a man's' world or so the song says and it is up to men to end violence against women. Ring the bell is asking for one million men to make one million promises to help end violence against women. Progress is being made, there have been several countries pass violence against women acts this year, but there is still much more to be done.

You cannot legislate attitude and that is what this issue calls for a worldwide change is attitude towards women. It can no longer be acceptable to treat a woman as property, it can no longer be acceptable to beat or kill a woman because she insults your manhood.

It is only through the recognition of woman as people, as equals and as valuable members of society that violence against women can be eradicated from our world.

One Million Men, One Million Promises, One million voices ringing out with the purity of a bell, One million, is just a start.

Ring the Bell, to stop violence against women. Please visit the site below to make your promise and add your voice today.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Part 3 Traditional Chicken Farming versus Modern Poultry

Environmental Impact

Free Range Chickens being fed
Free Range Chickens being fed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When discussing Modern farming methods versus traditional Chicken farming one of the most glaring issues that must be considered is the impact on our environment. As has often been stated, we only have one planet, best we take care of it. The effects of mass production chicken farming have been well documented and yet are still cause for debate. As with most issues associated with this subject passions tend to run at a feverish pitch. Those for and against, modern farming methods have much at stake. In this article, I will endeavor to give you simple, documented, facts without venturing into editorial comment.

Traditional (free range) Chicken Farming

With the traditional Chicken Farming Methods, birds and their waste was spread over a wide area and was based on a natural diet. Chickens grazed consuming grasses, seeds and insects. The supplemental food they were given was also based on natural sources, cracked corn, local grown grains and waste vegetables from gardens.

The Poultry waste from these birds was actually beneficial to the environment.  They reprocessed nutrients from their food and returned them to the environment in a manner that helped enrich the soil. Thus preventing soil degradation and assuring a healthier growing environment for the food that would, eventually, feed them and their owners. A shortened food cycle but one based on the sound ecological practices of a balanced environment and conservation of resources.

Modern Poultry Facts

Annual production of fecal waste from poultry flocks was 8.8 million tons on a dry weight basis plus more than 106,000 metric tons of broiler hatchery waste. Add to this 37 million dead birds and condemnations at processing plants (figures are from USDA for 1989 based on USDA National Statistics Survey). These figures are 14 years old. Since they were released the USDA has greatly reduced its public output of such information. This leaves us having to make some conclusions by supposition.

The American poultry Industry has shown a 30 percent growth rate per decade over the last two decades. Consider 14 years as roughly 1.5 decades this means a waste output of 12.76 million tons of fecal waste and 53.65 million dead birds. These numbers are being kind to the industry.

Unfortunately for the environment this waste is no longer spread over a wide area as it once was. Modern Poultry Farms are based on maximizing production, while maintaining as small a foot print as possible. This means more waste contained in a smaller area and altering the nature of the chickens' diet to increase growth rate. Altering their diet means altering their waste.

Commercial Chicken feed is no longer the natural product of their environment. Today's high growth feeds contain hormone and steroid precursors to increase growth rate. High antibiotic content to reduce losses due to diseases in the flock and arsenic to promote growth, reduce parasites, and give the meat that nice rosy glow that consumers have come to associate with fresh chicken. Hormones and steroids will be discussed in a later article. Our primary focus will be on the arsenic and antibiotic content of poultry feed.

Antibiotics in Poultry feed

High doses of antibiotics are used to protect flocks grown in very aseptic conditions. Overcrowding and an environment high in waste products, create an environment where diseases could run rampant and cause a sever loss of income to a farmer. To combat this extremely high doses of antibiotics are administered to the chickens in their feed. The primary concern with this process from an ecological stand point is that, viruses, bacteria and other microscopic organisms are highly adaptive. You provide them with a perfect breeding ground and then attack them with antibiotics they will quickly adapt and become resistant to that antibiotic. Witness the recent outbreaks of various Avian or Bird flues and E Coli that have become increasingly difficult to combat as they have become more and more antibiotic resistant. These antibiotic resistant organisms reaching us, the people, are a direct result of the feeding methods and waste management protocols in modern poultry farming.

Arsenic in Poultry Feed

Arsenic finds its way into poultry by way of feed. Nitarsone and similar arsenic based drugs have been used in the United States since the 1930's. Since that time it has been used to control parasites, promote growth and add pigment to the meat. The arsenic used in feed is an organic type found in nature but problems arise when it passes through the digestive tract of the chickens and then is deposited in the chickens Feces. Through a process of inorganic digestion, this organic arsenic is converted to an inorganic type that not only is a known carcinogen but is also water soluble.

Environmental Impact

"Runoff from poorly managed facilities can carry pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, nutrients, and oxygen-demanding organics…"

"according to the E.P.A., An estimated 19.5 million Americans fall ill each year from waterborne parasites, viruses or bacteria, including those stemming from human and animal waste."

These two Quotes speak for themselves. Wastes from Modern Poultry farms find their way into our rivers and streams. Their high nutrient levels (Nitrates, phosphorus etc.) cause a negative impact on the ecological systems by causing over production of plant life in certain areas. Oxygen demanding compounds lead to fish kills and dead zones in our waters. Arsenic and Pathogens contaminate our free waters and leach into the water table jeopardizing all that use water. Secondary contamination through livestock watering and irrigation spreads these contaminants further endangering the Eco-system and our food supply. The high concentrations of, ammonia and other gases, from decaying carcasses and waste, ads to global warming and Ozone Layer depletion.

I have done my best to avoid commentary in this article. Check my sources, check my facts. All that I have done here is try to provide information. What people choose to do with that information is up to their discretion?

If you missed the first two parts of this series you can follow the links below. Part 4 will cover the health impact of these two farming methods

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