Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Garlic scapes, fennel and tomatoes over pasta

After I posted that I was eating garlic scapes for dinner, a friend asked me how I cooked them, so I wrote this up. It's not really a recipe, but more like my cooking methodology - if you can call it that.

This was very much a last minute, make-it-up-as-you-go dinner. That's what happens when you live alone and don't plan your meals in advance. It sounds horribly disorganized, but sometimes great things come from experiments like this. Many of my favorite dishes have resulted from me just throwing ingredients in with no plan.

I had garlic scapes* from the garden, and my fennel was getting bushy as well. I figured maybe I should cut the fronds on the fennel back a bit so that more energy would go into the bulb. (I love fennel, and have tried to grow it in the past, but never had any decent bulb, so I'm happy to report that it looks like it was a success this year.)

Several people had told me that garlic scapes can be eaten just like asparagus, so I thought I'd cut them up and saute them in butter, since butter always seems to improve garlic. The scapes looked a little lonely in the pan, and not much like a meal, so I decided maybe I should make a more varied veggie dish over pasta. I walked into the back yard and cut a big frond of fennel, chopped it up, and threw it in as well. Then, so pull it together and make it more sauce-like, I chopped up a few tomatoes and threw them in. Salt and pepper are often the only spices that are needed with veggies this flavorful, so that's all I added. OK, I actually also added a little bit of balsamic vinegar, which I find is like salt - it brings out the flavor in foods.

After the pasta was all cooked up, and I dumped the veggies in top, I decided that the parmesan cheese just wasn't rich enough, so first I added a bit of olive oil, and then a little cottage cheese to make it extra creamy.

Yup, that was just perfect.

The following day I made a similar dish, but this time just the veggies, salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar in foil on the grill. Very tasty and quick addition to the burger and brats.

*More on garlic scapes.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Seriously, How hard is 400 signatures?

A judge recently ruled against a candidate that failed to get 400 signatures for a state senate seat. He was two signatures short after some of the signatures were ruled invalid.

I'm sure the Republican party will call foul, but really, 400 signatures to get on the ballot, and he failed? Volunteers got enough signatures to set up a recall election, but not enough to get their candidate on the ballot? How lame can the effort be?

Maybe it's because the people collecting signatures against Senator Dave Hansen were often paid, out of state people who didn't really care about the issues, but were just in it for the dough. I did data entry to challenge some of those recall petitions, and the work was very sloppy, and almost every petition from Green Bay were from someone from outside Wisconsin. (I personally think a person circulating a petition should have to be an eligible elector in Wisconsin, but that's just me.)

As a former elected officials, I have circulated many nomination papers. Four hundred signatures is a pretty low bar for an office that important, and everyone knows you always overshoot. When I had to collect 20 signatures to get on the ballot in Madison, I got 50. When the Democrats needed 15,000 signatures to recall a Republican Senator, they got 20,000, 25,000, even 30,000 signatures!

Rep. John Nygren is either extremely lazy or extremely politically incompetent. Either way, he didn't do the minimum to be on the ballot, and clearly doesn't deserve to be a State Senator. (Yes, it was probably his staff that is lazy and/or incompetent, but it is still the candidate's responsibility, and even the candidate alone should be able to get 400 signatures to get his name on the ballot.)