An American Experience: We Shall Remain

I just watched an excellent 90-minute PBS show on the Wampanoag experience from their first contact with the Pilgrims to the tragic conclusion of King Philips War in 1672.

I highly recommend it. It was very accurate and beautifully filmed.  Pretty interesting to hear Algonquin spoken in the Nipmuc dialect.

Site problems

My ISP – Meganet in Fall River, Mass. has me on a sick server that had made blog access all but impossible the past week. Things seem to be improving slowly, but not my mood. I had to call them to find out the problem was on their end, not mine, and then it was a case of “stay tuned” with no sense of when the problems would be resolved. I really miss the good old days when I hosted locally at Cape.com and knew the people running the operation. I’ve seen nothing but a reduction in service since Meganet took over Cape.com and that is sad.

The annals of food: Galantine

A big side hobby of mine is cooking, primarily French and Italian with an occasional foray into Chinese (Hunan) and Cape Cod seafood classics. This winter I’ve been working my way through Michael Ruhlman’s excellent book on charcuterie – the ancient art of preserving, curing, and preparing meat – and yesterday I tackled the hardest recipe yet: chicken galantine.

The first step was to skin, in a single piece, a fresh organic chicken. This requires getting very intimate with the bird and a sharp boning knife. In the end it was easier than expected and I wound up with a rough rectangle of skin about 18″ wide and 10″ high. I laid it flat, unwrinkled on some plastic wrap, covered with another sheet, and tossed it into the freezer.

Then I butchered and deboned the filets, thighs and drums from the skinned carcass, turning the bones into a chicken stock which simmered for six hours.

I excised the tenderloins, sautéed them in olive oil, and ran the remainder of the breasts and dark meat through a fine sieve meat grinder. That all went into the food processor, along with a couple tablespoons of sautéed garlic and shallots deglazed with a cup of Madeira, two egg whites and a tablespoon of kosher salt and ground pepper. That all was ground to a fine paste for three minutes, then I folded in a cup of heavy cream, a half cup of fresh tarragon, chives and parsley and a pound of sliced sautéed organic mushrooms. Not a heart friendly recipe.

On a two-foot long, double thick piece of cheesecloth I laid out the frozen skin, scraping off the fat deposits while it thawed to a pliable state, then with a rubber spatula laid down a thick rectangle of the chicken meat mixture. Into that I laid down the previously browned tenderloins end-to-end and covered them with the remainder of the mixture. I rolled the skin around the mixture (a bit sloppy as there wasn’t enough skin to make a complete casing). I tied off the ends of the cheesecloth tube with string. Bound three thin strips of cheese cloth around the circumference of the long tube for support, then poached the whole affair in the chicken broth for an hour until the internal temperature of the galantine hit 160 fahrenheit – the magic number for poultry.

I let the galantine cool in the broth, opened it up six hours later, took a slice and ….

Not bad. I basically made a big herb flavored chicken sausage. A classic French “cold cut”, transforming an entire chicken, bones and all, into a compact tube about 12″ long and three inches across. Tarragon is a treacherous herb – too much and everything tastes like tarragon, but this isn’t too bad. The mushrooms held up and didn’t come off to slippery and slimy. This would be good with a summer salad, as an appetizer, maybe as the basis of a high end sandwich on a good Pullman loaf with homemade mayonnaise. If I was really fancy I’d cover it with aspic and do some aspic art stuff, but Escoffier I am not.

If you are into cooking challenges, get a copy of Ruhlman’s book, and I recommend his blog as well. Next challenge is duck confit – I finally found some duck legs at the local market ($3.80 apiece) and Ruhlman advises that one can cure them in olive oil, not the daunting quarts of duck fat that are all but impossible to find unless one renders their own ducks down. I have had some success this winter with cassoulet, and duck confit is a primary piece of that bean stew of goodness.

And if anyone knows a good source of pork back fat – I need it. The butchers on Cape Cod dread my appearances (“Any veal bones? Any uncured pork belly? Any back fat?”)

A true captain

The cliche of a ship’s captain being the last to step off the slanted, sinking deck into the lifeboats; the person who “goes down with the ship.”  The stand-tall, imperious embodiment of leadership personified. Remember Captain Sullenberger walking the flooded aisle of his Airbus as it sank gently into the January Hudson? Checking twice for straggler passengers?

Now in the Gulf of Aden we have Massachusetts Maritime Academy graduate, Captain Richard Phillips of Underhill, Vermont selflessly offering himself to a band of Somali pirates so the crew of the Maersk Alabama could go free.

A family member told the Cape Cod Times:

“”What I understand is that he offered himself as the hostage,” she said. “That is what he would do. It’s just who he is and his response as a captain.”

Imagine the scene as the desperate pirates sit in a lifeboat, out of gas, floating listlessly in water and this arrives, the U.S.S. Bainbridge?

Break out the Depends.

Definition of mixed emotions

ThinkPad tablets have been installed in the player’s lockers in the new Yankee Stadium (aka “The New Toilet” to Red Sox fans).

Seeing ThinkPads deployed in an innovative way makes me glad.

Seeing them in Jeter’s locker makes me squirrelly.

Check out the video at MLB.com at 2’50” for the sighting in the wild.

Thanks to GottaBeMobile.com for the pointer.

The AP versus the Aggregators

This morning the New York Times reports on the annual meeting of the Associated Press, and the remarks by AP Chairman William Dean Singleton that the organization “was mad as hell” and not going to take it any more from the portals and internet sites that use, abuse and profit from  its content under the guise of “fair use.”

Rather than rely on the Times — an AP member — for the news, I dug out the full text of Mr. Singleton’s remarks:

“On Saturday, the AP Board of Directors unanimously decided to take all actions necessary to protect the content of the Associated Press and the AP Digital Cooperative from misappropriation on the Internet.

The board also unanimously agreed to work with portals and other partners who legally license our content and who reward the cooperative for its vast newsgathering efforts — and to seek legal and legislative remedies against those who don’t.

We believe all of your newspapers will join our battle to protect our content and receive appropriate compensation for it.

AP and its member newspapers and broadcast associate members are the source of most of the news content being created in the world today. We must be paid fully and fairly.

We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories. We are mad as hell, and we are not going to take it any more.

You will be hearing more about this important and exciting campaign in the coming weeks and months, but I wanted to share this with you today. I know all of you will be looking forward to playing a big role in this cooperative effort. “

Here’s the problem in a nutshell.  The AP is ticked off at Yahoo and Google and other big portals for running ads against excerpts of its content — even when those excerpts and headlines link to the full-text version on the original AP member newspaper’s website. AP wants to be paid by the portals for the privilege of lifting its headline and ledes and then linking back to the full-text. They’ve been moaning about this since early 2008.

From the Times article:

“This is not about defining fair use,” said Sue A. Cross, a senior vice president of the group, who added several times during an interview that news organizations want to work with the aggregators, not against them. “There’s a bigger economic issue at stake here that we’re trying to tackle.”

But the details remain to be worked out, she said, including how to limit use of articles and how to share revenue. When asked if The A.P. would require a licensing agreement before a search engine could show specific material, Ms. Cross said, “that could be an element of it,” but added, “it’s not that formed.”

This reminds me of the edict of a former CEO of a former employer (not Forbes) who decided that he would ban links into his content by competitors.

This also reminds me of the lawsuit pending here in Massachusetts by Gatehouse Media against the Times and Boston Globe for linking to Gatehouse’s weekly newspaper websites and drawing its headlines and leads together in an attempt to create “hyper-local” aggregators.

I see two fundamental religious differences in the philosophy of linking and linkage.

1. Internet geeks and techies, like myself, see the “hyperlink” as the essence of the Web and that most content on the web should be linkable and not walled off.

2. Publishers and lawyers want to be compensated for the cost of producing the content that gets linked to, and are aggravated by ads sold against a page containing a link to the page they created.

Prediction? AP is clutching at straws. This is an embarrassment for them and their members who are hurting hard and need all the traffic they can get. The quid pro quo in linkage is traffic and the portals are dumping billions of free page views into their laps. Shut off the links and start chasing sites on a battle against the concept of “fair use,” replacing the debate into one about “fair share” and no one wins.

All is right with the world – Opening Day

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.