The Functional Hermit

musings from a homebody

The Functional Hermit Finale: Pork Green Chile

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It’s been harder and harder to get my act together enough to write about anything lately. So much so, that it’s time to shut the old blog down. It’s been a great ride for me. Here’s a picture of the last meal documented for FH purposes: Pork Green Chile. It was delicious. Adios amigos.

Written by muddy runner

November 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Posted in Daily Happenings

NFL Week 9 Menu: It’s carnitas time

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Bow down and worship the insane deliciousness that is carnitas. Salty. Spicy. Juicy. Citrusy. With a butter-knife-tender consistency that melts in your mouth and falls apart easier than Wade Phillips’ Dallas Cowboys. I’ve been tweaking this recipe since first trying it but this time I cut out an entire step that saved a huge amount of time and effort with zero downside. The list of ingredients was surprisingly short. Here’s what went into it this time:

3.75 pound pork butt, with fat trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons of seasoned salt

2 medium onions, quartered.

2 jalapeno peppers

1 bulb’s worth of garlic – about 8 cloves

1 cup of orange juice

1 teaspoon of liquid smoke

handful of cilantro

flour tortillas, lime wedges, diced red onion for serving

I started by cubing the pork. The bone of a boston butt is always a pain to trim around. One day I’m going to slice a finger open doing it but this time I didn’t draw any blood. There was more fat than usual on this butt so it took some effort. Once cubed, season the pork with the seasoned salt and mix well.


Previously, at this point I would heat some oil in my workhorse of a dutch oven and brown/sear the pork in batches. Then I’d deglaze the pan with the orange juice and go from there. I started wondering if this was really necessary so this time I held back, though sizzling meat in oil is always a fun way to kill some time.

So this time around I just went ahead and added the orange juice, jalapeno peppers, onions, liquid smoke, garlic and cilantro into the dutch oven and mixed well. Then just mixed in my raw, seasoned pork.

Then I put on the cover and stuck it into my preheated oven. I originally planned on cooking it for 4 hours at 300 degrees. But I got a bit gun shy and kicked it up to 325 degrees for the first 90 minutes. That ended up being unnecessary. Next time we’ll be keeping it at a steady 300. Here’s what it looked like at the four-hour mark.

My wife steamed up some flour tortillas so they were nice and soft. We just spooned a healthy amount into a tortilla, gave it a squeeze of lime and some red onions for texture. My tacos got a healthy dose of hot sauce, but my wife doesn’t roll that way. Sometimes she can be lame like that.

This dish never disappoints. If you ever make it for someone and they don’t like it I suggest seriously reconsidering your association with them.



Written by muddy runner

November 8, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Posted in Hermit Grub

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Hermit Cinema: Iron Man 2

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The first Iron Man laid down all the groundwork for a successful franchise. Director John Favreau and most of the cast return which gave me hope. I’m sorry to say that Iron Man 2 blew that all to hell.

Robert Downey Jr. perfected Tony Stark as an arrogant yet charming playboy. In the sequel, he really only comes across as arrogant. Pepper Potts (Gwynneth Paltrow) plays less of a role here so that Scarlett Johanssen can run around in a skin-tight suit. Don Cheadle replaces Terrance Howard in the military pal role. Mickey Rourke is introduced as a new villain in a plot so thin, if you put it in some olive oil it would liquify in the pan å la Goodfellas.

This movie was such a disappointment it really doesn’t deserve any more of a writeup. It is watchable. But little else. Take a pass unless you’re bored.

I give this movie a D-plus.


 

 

Written by muddy runner

November 3, 2010 at 10:24 am

Brett Favre: The slow, sad goodbye

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from Minnpost.com

 

How much would you risk for one more walk in the sun? Brett Favre has put far more into jeopardy than he possibly ever imagined by coming back for one last season, again.

There was a time when the very large percentage of my soul that is a football fan was in awe of all things Brett Favre. This started in the 90’s and continued for over a decade. The way he played the game was like a schoolboy enjoying his first recess in months. His meetings with the press after the games were honest, blunt and entertaining. Beneath his feet was sacred ground.

It seemed any mistake would be forgiven because of all he had given to the sport. His mistakes on the field and his aw-shucks demeanor were part of what made him so human. He seemed like some guy you knew who just ended up there somehow. Outside of some comments he made when Javon Walker made a contract holdout from the Green Bay Packers, he never came close to making a mistake off the field.

He had it all it seemed. A Hall of Fame NFL career. Lucrative off-field endorsements. A loving family and devoted wife who is a cancer survivor at that.

Then he started considering retirement. Now hit the repeat button and hold it down. Professional sports is big business and it’s understandable that the Packers would want to move forward with a person willing to commit beyond the current season. When the Packerrs tried to play that card, Brett balked. He walked his game to the NY Jets for one forgettable year that all contemporary  sports legends seemingly have to experience before walking away.

Then he defied historic pattern, went to the Vikings and the magic came back. They marched all the way to the NFC Championship and were so close to a dream Super Bowl they could taste it and were able to coax Brett back for one more try. I say coax because at no time this season has it ever seemed like Brett really wanted to be playing in the NFL. Have you ever seen footage of players arriving at the stadium? I saw Brett arrive for his first game this year and he looked like a man walking to a root canal. The chips are not going the Vike’s way this year and there is little joy visible in Brett’s game.

But he was clean. Not like a politician who claims to have never, ever have watched porn of any kind. Brett was clean because he generally came across like a regular guy. Nobody ever really imagined him doing anything but what regular guys would do.

Then came the Jenn Sterger controversy. He has admitted to leaving the alleged voicemails but denies sending her pictures of him fondling himself. According to the Deadspin.com report, the pictures were sent from the same number as the voicemails. So if he left the voicemails, someone went to a CIA/gangster hacker level of trouble to make it ‘look like’ he sent the pictures. If he had not come back for this last season with the Vikings, I doubt anyone would really give a rat’s ass about this story.

So here’s what Brett has laid on the line to play this season. First is his legacy as a football player, with the added tarnish of an athlete who doesn’t know how to walk away from the game with grace or dignity. Second is his streak of consecutive games started, which I think is way, way more important to Brett than he ever admits or maybe even realizes. His aging body is going to require him to sit a few games if he is going to rely on his body come playoff time.

But beyond that, with the recent scandal, what else can he lose? His wife and loving family? Clearly shady things were going on. His endorsements? If not, I guess being a Wrangler-kind-of-guy means courting women with cock photos.

He had it all. And for this one season, he could lose it. Maybe he doesn’t give a shit. That’s his right. Personally, I think he needs a little more George Costanza in him. Always leave them wanting more…

Written by muddy runner

October 28, 2010 at 10:38 am

NFL Week 7 Menu: Thirty Dollar Chili

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I have said previously that pork and football is the king of all combinations. Chili and football would be a close second. Chili with pork in it and football would be even closer to the throne.

It’s getting a bit chilly around these parts – finally – so it’s time for chili. This recipe is pretty easy. Here’s what I used:

2 pounds cubed beef (any cut is fine, here I used chuck)

3/4 pound pork chorizo with casing removed

1/2 pound ground sirloin

2 onions, sliced

1 green pepper, cut

5 garlic cloves, minced

28 ounce can whole tomatoes

28 ounce can beef broth (I used reduced sodium here and did not miss it)

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tablespoon garlic salt

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal

1 cup of fresh cilantro

Dash of salt and fresh, ground pepper

Hot sauce

In the past I’ve thrown in a cinnamon stick as well. Start by browning the beef. You know the routine; heat oil and sizzle the suckers in batches.

Once that’s done, throw in your onions, garlic and pepper. There will be a fair amount of stuff stuck to the pan that will loosen up and flavor the veggies. Cook until the onions soften, stirring often.

Now add the chorizo and ground beef to your pan. Mix well with the onion, pepper and garlic and make sure to break up all the pieces of sausage and meat.

Now return the browned beef to the pot and add all your remaining ingredients: broth, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, herbs, spices and a little hot sauce.

Give it all a good stir and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer for at least two hours. This time around I gave it over three.

Garnish with sour cream, shredded cheddar and some scallions if you’re into that kind of thing. We serve this chili with warm tortillas. It never disappoints…

Written by muddy runner

October 27, 2010 at 10:27 am

Posted in Hermit Grub

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Hermit Cinema: The Informant!

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This Steven Soderbergh film is a hard one to wrap your head around. Comedy? Yes. Period piece? Check. Docu-drama? Yep. Given how odd the created reality is in this movie, it wouldn’t have felt all that surprising if the characters had broken into song and dance.

The last movie I reviewed suffered by not building adequate empathy for its lead character. Here you don’t have much empathy, either. But you’re just so perplexed by the motivations of lead character Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) that you can’t help but keep watching with the faint hope of finding some clue that sheds the outer layer of his onion revealing only the true core.

Allegedly based on real events, it’s the early 1990’s and Whitacre is an up-and-comer at Archer Daniels Midland, or ADM. His impressive rise up the ADM ladder and the scattered thoughts that fuel his consciousness make for a strange juxtaposition.

When one of his projects hits a snag, he invents a lie that becomes the precursor to thousands more. The more he lies the deeper hole he digs for himself and he keeps digging, seemingly intent on coming out clean on the other side. At first it seems he lies to better his prospects at the company but the lying, cheating and attention given to him by Special Agent Brian Shepard (Scott Bakula) of the FBI become an addiction. Whitacre feeds Shepard tales of corporate price fixing and payoffs. Shepard thinks he’s onto a major, major case.

Whitacre seems to believe many of the lies he comes up with, a fact that underscores his lack of grasp on any firm reality. Soon rules and morality become so bendable to Whitacre that he become unable to realize how devious his words and actions have become. He is doing the right thing. He’s the good guy. And he keeps repeating as much probably in an attempt to convince himself as much as anything else.

There’s no real point in going into the plot here because this movie is as much about how it’s done as it is about what happens. The period details are pitch perfect and the film is desaturated to give it that very sterile video-look of the time. Damon gives a committed performance; his rambling inner monologue is perhaps the most entertaining and illuminating part of the movie.

I honestly don’t know whether to recommend this movie or to suggest taking a pass. This is one of those movies that is going to hit every single person in a different way. It is entertaining. It is funny. But sitting through the whole film is like being trapped in a humorous yet awkward conversation for a couple of hours. There’s a strange discomfort that permeates from the beginning; by design, I would guess, and probably the intended result. The filmmakers play it straight the whole way through. Damon too. See what you think.

I give this movie a pretty confused B-plus.

Written by muddy runner

October 20, 2010 at 9:59 am

Hermit Cinema: The Spanish Prisoner

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After watching the surprisingly good Spartan, I added David Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner to my Netflix queue. I had read in more than a few places that it was a film with some good, unpredictable plot twists.

Now the problem with con movies is that while you watch, it’s nearly impossible not to be on constant lookout for the next crazy twist to reveal itself. Perhaps this movie suffered too much from that fate for me? Or maybe the film doesn’t fit together as perfectly as one might hope? Ultimately, I would argue that this movies suffers from one of the most common movie drawbacks: an inability to build adequate empathy for its lead character.

Joe Ross (Campbell Scott) is a contract employee and creator of ‘The Process’ – a proprietary invention that can be used to make a fortune. He is in the Caribbean with friend/coworker George Lang (Ricky Jay – the human acting equivalent to the cartoon character Droopy Dog) and new coworker Susan Ricci (Rebecca Pidgeon). It’s a big meeting where he’s pitching the use of ‘The Process’ to the head of the company, Mr. Klein (Ben Gazarra), and other members of the company’s board.

More than anything he wants to make sure he makes out well financially because his work is going to make the company boatloads of money. Much to Joe’s distress, every time he tries to bring up with subject with Mr. Klein he is brushed off with vague promises that everything will be made right in the end. He begins airing his concerns to Jimmy Dell (Steve Martin), a wealthy American on vacation with whom he strikes up a quick friendship. Jimmy comes across as serious, successful, connected and charming. (Big, red flag, anyone?)

Everyone returns back to New York and once there, Joe gets more and more worried that he’s going to get screwed out of any big payday. Jimmy offers to help arrange a meeting with a lawyer to gain some leverage. Susan begins flirting with Joe shamelessly, seeing that he is heading for much bigger things.

Of course, this is a con movie so nothing is what it seems. Soon Joe enlists the help of FBI agent Pat McCune (Felicity Huffman) because he realizes he cannot trust anybody. Joe is played time and time again, eventually ending up on the lam for crimes he did not commit.

The truth is revealed, of course. Joe learns who everyone really is. But by that point, I just didn’t care enough about him to worry that much. Joe’s character never gets fully developed, only played. That’s surprising to me in a Mamet movie.

This isn’t a terrible movie or anything. It was a bit long and ponderous for me and in the end, just didn’t feel all that remarkable. My high expectations may have doomed this movie but personally, I would guess that most of you would find it a tad underwhelming as well. This is a movie that just doesn’t quite live up to its potential.

I give The Spanish Prisoner a disappointed C-plus.

Written by muddy runner

October 13, 2010 at 4:18 pm

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