Wholemeal Tomato Soup

My "Wholemeal Tomato Soup"Tomato soup, rather like you remember, can be yours, homemade, vegan and protein-y. Healthy eaters do miss its grown-up convenience and childhood nostalgia flavor and texture. If you read the ingredients and nutrition levels of canned tomato soup, however, you will definitely want an alternative. Even the seemingly better choices of canned soup are pretty salty etc.

For being from scratch, it’s pretty quick, as it’s a pantry dish. To My Beloved and me, it’s real close to that ol’ heat-and-eat flavor but with full confidence in its quality.

“Wholemeal” is a repurposing of the British word for what Americans would call whole grain. Here it means I’ve tucked in healthy amounts of plant protein with little impact on flavor or texture, to make a whole meal, nutritionally.

Healthy red lentils are more orange but when cooked turn yellow.
Red lentils lose color when cooked. Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • 1-2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (olive oil or salad oil)
  • 1 medium-large onion, peeled and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste (about 1/4 can)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (2-3 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4-6 cups water
  • 1 28 oz (large) can tomatoes (crushed, diced or whole), undrained
  • 1-2 teaspoons vegetable broth powder
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried herbs (such as Italian blend or tarragon or basil)
  • 1/2 cup dry red lentils, check for bad ones or dirt or gravel then rinse OR 1 14-15 oz can cannellini beans, undrained
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, to start with

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Solomonic

Shy of a Load

Who to believe, once again. The Washington Post on Dec. 15 reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been instructed to not use seven words (including two two-word phrases) in budget documents. Later CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald partly refuted that, “calling the report ‘a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process,'” reported The Boston Globe’s science news site STAT.

That the list comprised seven words instantly reminded the culturally aware among us of late comic George Carlin’s 1972 routine “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” a classic. (Here’s a not-too-blurry YouTube of the spiel.)

Here is one sentence from the Post’s article, which tracked the policy up to the overseeing Department of Health and Human Services: “In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of ‘science-based’ or ‘evidence-based,’ the suggested phrase is ‘CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,’ the person [an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing] said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.”

A humor writer friend, Paul Lander, made a great post of this, “Quiz.”

Between the news and Paul, I saw this as a writing prompt. If it’s not particularly literary then call it a self-dare. That is, to use all 14 in a single sentence.

Note: It’s awkward for me to use cuss words in writing. Besides, it may offend my 14 readers. Hence asterisks abound.

Overheard at the Voyage of the Beagle Gastropub in Foggy Bottom: “What do you mean, you c*cksucker of ent*tlement, this sh*t stratifies my p*ss and population-sequences my t*ts, and it’s a motherf*cker, too, what that c*nt at HHS told us here at CDC, that the grant for the NIH transg*nder epigenetics project is stalled, though we can do the job right, it’ll be random-sampled, evid*nce-based and transparent thus sc*ence-based, but it won’t matter, it won’t help the f*tuses of today grow toward a distribution of div*rsity tomorrow, that they’re just as v*lnerable as ever — oh, f*ck.”


Speaking of Foggy Bottom, the administration’s recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel kicks any hope of peace into a gully. Early in December, DJT (say digit) proclaimed this presidential edict and today our U.N ambassador, Nikki Haley, endorsed it before the world body, which condemned Trump’s move. Continue reading

Consent Degree

Bullies surround us. Always. All of us, 100 percent. Accept it, you know it’s true, and choose your battles. Making dark jokes helps. Also, they’re not always on the prowl.

Two young antelopes spar or play in front of elephant
Credit: StockSnap

This isn’t about bobcats or coyotes. Although like humans, kitty cats and puppy dogs if the predator instinct remains strong and they’re given the chance play with their prey. Sometimes human bullies feel a need for something their victims have, but often enough it’s more gratuitous. While compulsion is strong, humans have more power of choice than other animals.

This is not to say all of us are victims AND all of us are bullies — maybe just latently cruel or maybe just sometimes. I don’t see that in myself and others. Some people are bullies, and the majority of us have to deal with that.

But 100 percent of us can do ugly things.

Among bullies, some are lifers. Sickos keep at it year after year. Others bully a few times or within a span of a few years — late childhood or early adulthood — then seem to retire from it.

Louis C.K.’s stand-up never has done much for me. The routines (culture, family, relationships) are more provoking than funny. But I relished his sitcom Louie. With overlapping plots and major and minor characters, he covered much of the same ground, with greater impact. Thus, I hope to someday see I Love You, Daddy, his film satire whose release got scuttled with his expose.

The hashtag #metoo has been a digital key this fall inspired by journalism reports of sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual threats by famous or successful people. The victims in these cases often are not typical victims in terms of helplessness but at times ambitious and with early successes in their own right. What these victims have done best is bring the type of bullying that beset them — sexual — to light. Light, air, candor, specifics.

I read in social media the #metoo’s of people I know. If every person could in full confidence post #metoo, it’d be 100 percent. Surely every girl gets the talk from someone: Be careful with men. The threat’s universal. Continue reading

Positive Developments, at Gunpoint

Shy of a Load: Guns, Memoir and Comedy

Sign on Maple Street in the University of Arkansas, still up after Sept. 1, 2017. Ben Pollock photo
Sign on Maple Street, University of Arkansas, still up Sept. 10, 2017.
Ben Pollock photo

It’s been nine days since guns became technically legal at Arkansas colleges and universities (and some other places) when carried by holders of enhanced concealed weapon state permits, and no one’s been shot on campus. That includes a major football game. Heck, professors already have assigned papers to write, books to read and problem sets to solve. Mixers have been held on weekend nights, and the hapless failed to, er, mix.

“Technically” is the key word.

Those folks need 8 more hours of “enhanced” training for campus concealed carry, in addition to the 6 now required for general carry. Good news: Training hasn’t begun, so no enhanced permits yet. The State Police began figuring out what’s to be taught Sept. 1, the same day the ASP was allowed to begin determining the other particulars of the new weapons laws. Better news: The officials have up to 120 days — that is, no later than Dec. 30, 2017 — to ink those regulations. Then people legally can begin wearing bulky jackets for another reason besides that it’s December.

Sign reading r'Asadink Tiddlywinks Stadium - Home of University Tabletop SportsFortunately, the Legislature added an examption to continue weapons bans at sporting events. This makes me bulletproof as I am declaring my academic office an athletic facility. I could be threatened from the door of my table sports arena, but the shooter would be in big big trouble.

I’m rating this good news, what with natural disasters and divisive politics. There’s more to praise.


Yeah, as if my praise means anything in the greater concept of the world. So let’s herald approximately three other bits.

Sherman Alexie this summer published his latest, the memoir You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me. A memoir generally is autobiographic, but the “you” her is his mom, Lillian Alexie, so the book circles around their relationship. Continue reading

Q: WTF? A: Hi-dee Hi-dee Hi-dee Ho

“Anthony Scaramucci, the short-lived White House communications director, is making the rounds on TV next week. Scaramucci will be interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week on Sunday. Then he’ll appear on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on CBS on Monday.” — CNN.com

Treble clef symbolFolks, here’s a story about Tony the Moocha’
He was the red-hot Scaramucc(a)
The roughest, toughest gym-ripped male
Ain’t no way is he gonna end up in jail

(Call and response chorus)
Hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi (hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi)
Whoa-a-a-a-ah (whoa-a-a-a-ah)
Hee-dee-hee-dee-hee-dee-hee (hee-dee-hee-dee-hee-dee-hee)
He-e-e-e-e-e-e-y (he-e-e-e-e-e-e-y)

Anthony Scaramucci
Anthony Scaramucci, Wikimedia Commons

Mooch took the call, sold stocks, his wife just gone
Fame’s ahead — what could go wrong
Left the Street named Wall for an Office that’s Oval
Won’t bury Caesar, but he packed a shovel

(Call and response chorus)
Hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi (hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi)
(Similar scat improv for lines 3 and 4) Continue reading