Panettone, Plants, and Politics: Enough Alliteration for a Drizzly Day

It’s one of those luxurious Sunday mornings, luxurious but lazy.  Outside it’s a grey, drizzly day, but because tomorrow is a holiday, I’m not feeling the pressure to get things done for the work week ahead.

Two airy loaves of panettone, ready to go into the oven.

Even so, I’ve gotten a lot accomplished already.  I’ve put together panettone dough and have the oven getting heated up so that by the time I get this written, I can go down to the kitchen and put the dough in the pans.  I haven’t made panettone since about this time last year, but I know no one else who makes it, and I’ve made enough adjustments to the recipe (check out my recipe) I originally got from the Joy of Cooking to make this one mine.  I think there will be enough for two loaves:  a big one that I can take to work to share in the break room and a smaller one that I can grab a slice for breakfast on the road or make super-delish French toast next weekend.

Unharmed by the low temperatures earlier in the week, this tomato plant seems to be enjoying the Sunday drizzle.

I’ve also brought in all the sheets that I used to cover potted plants and my tomatoes in the garden.  Though the thermometer read 25° F. one morning when I got up with Annie, most of my plants came out unscathed.  Apparently, the low temperatures didn’t stay long enough to do much damage.  The tomatoes that I set in in

Tiny, new lettuce sprouts peeking through the cool January soil.

January (Can you deal with two prepositions in a row?) seem none the worse for wear, and by the looks, there may be a tomato or two for the plate in a few weeks.  I didn’t cover the pepper plants, so they look somewhat peaked from the cold, but I want to replace them with different varieties in the spring anyway.

It was also a good morning to grind the beans for fresh coffee.  I don’t drink coffee on an every-day basis, but I like a cup from Starbuck’s or freshly brewed at home for a treat.  I’m on my second cup now, and I definitely feel the caffeine.  I doubt whether I’ll take a Sunday afternoon nap today.  In addition to the coffee, I made a nice two-egg omelette filled with fresh pico de gallo–store-bought, but still full of fresh veggie taste.  (I noticed that when I was back home for the holidays that I am not the only one in my family that says “store-boughten” as opposed to the grammatically-correct “store-bought”.  I love the sound of colloquial English and think that “computer-ese” with all its LOLs and other abbreviation is making language much less expressive and more robotic.)

On a different note this pre-MLK Day Sunday, I can’t help but mention (I have to say “mention” or someone may think I’m being vitriolic) how these supposedly fiscally conservative Republicans who got elected in November are really having problems and don’t really seem all that fiscally conservative, let alone, fiscally adept. 

Here in Texas, Rick Perry, who has been governor for 10 years and campaigned on his financial expertise at balancing the budget before last November’s elections, now finds himself facing a $27 billion shortfall for the state.  In my old home state of Kansas, another supposedly fiscal conservative, newly-elected Governor Sam Brownback’s budget is bigger than that of the current one, which was created while Democrats were in the governor’s seat.  According to the Wichita newspaper,  Brownback “proposal increased spending from the state general fund to $6.1 billion in fiscal year 2012, which begins July 1, from $5.7 billion in the current budget.”   In Perry’s case, he has been in the governor’s office since 2000, coming into the position after George W. Bush was elected President.  The problems in the state budget can’t be blamed on Democrats because the legislature is also heavily Republican.  In Kansas, while the previous governor was a Democrat, the legislature has been controlled by Republicans for decades, perhaps since the founding of the state in 1861 (I’ll have to check my history books.)  In both states, the legislatures must approve the states’ budgets. 

Whether Republican or Democrat, these days we really need some people in office in our state that have some business sense, and are fiscally adept.  Just saying you are fiscally conservative doesn’t really make a state more fiscally sound.

Mmmm.  Now the smell of baking panettone is wafting up my stairway.  I’d better go check on those goodies!

And here they are! Don't they look tempting right out of the oven?

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New Gallup Poll Just Out Shows a Preference for Blue Over Red When It Comes to Political Party Choices

GallupAn interesting surprise from tonight’s Rachel Maddow Show is a new poll out from Gallup, which is based on people from each state and their political party identification. I’m not going to paraphrase or quote, because if you’re really interested in the relatively short article explaining the poll and its results, just click over to it here at the Gallup site.

There are some results which do surprise me though:

  • The results from this poll are very similar to those of last year.
  • Texas, where I’ve lived for so long, and Kansas, my home state, both of which are traditionally conservative and vote Republican, now show a competitive balance in party association.
  • Oklahoma, which had no (yes, that’s zero) county give a majority of its votes to President Obama in the 2008 election is shown as leaning Democrat.
  • Only five states are shown as strong Republican or leaning Republican.

One thing to note is that according to the article, the survey was taken of adults 18 or older, not necessarily voters.

If you like politics and demographics, take a look and check out where your state and the country stands politically, at least, based on this survey.

Rachel Maddow Show Reports Obama Will Allow Some Benefits for Same-Sex Partners of Federal Employees

maddowI just finished watching a segment of the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. As part of tonight’s show, which included a lot about the events in Iran, she reported that tomorrow President Obama will award benefits for partners of gay federal employees. The few details which were given came from NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd via telephone.

It seems that this action might be in response to the amount of negative reaction to the Department of Justice’s defense against a case that might have gone to the Supreme Court against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which basically denies federal recognition to same-sex marriages that are legal in some states and also says other states don’t have to recognize those marriages either. There are lots of details about this whole controvery on Americablog, Pam’s House Blend, and Towleroad, so go to these sights if you want more on this.

A Great Interactive Demographics Map of the Results of the 2008 Election: It’s Your Tuesday Treat!

Blue RedFor anyone who is interested in American politics and demographics, and in particular, the results of the 2008 Election, there is a wonderful interactive map from the NY Times.

You can select from a list of demographic variables (age, economic, employment, etc.) and then adjust the percentage bar, which is located above the map. Move the little tabs to change the percentages. I didn’t get it at first, but it’s fun. You can see, based on which factors you enter, the counties which gave their majority of votes to Obama and which to McCain. At the same time, you get an output of the overall national percentage based on the factors you’ve used.

It’s a very informative little gadget!

Early Voting in Houston, Texas

(Looking for early voting locations and times in Houston and Harris County? Go here to Harrisvotes.org; for Montgomery County, go here.)