Friday, October 28, 2005

Holiday Appetizer: Cream Cheese Chile Roll-Ups

I love these things because they bring back fond memories of my Mexican sweetheart from California, who used to make me something similar when we were dating in the 70's. And the version with the mild green chile is from the true love of my life, who hails from New Mexico. So I guess there's something about me and girls and cream cheese and places with "Mexico" in the name.

It's really simple. Basically just mix chiles in cream cheese and roll it up in a tortilla:

  • 1 habañero
  • 1 hot green jalapeño
  • 3 mild red jalapeños
  • 8 oz pkg of regular cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 2 8" flour tortillas
  • Coarse ground kosher salt (can use regular)
  • Mince 2 hot chiles and one of the mild ones very finely (or chop in food processor), saving the 2 extra mild ones for a garnish.

  • Fold minced chiles into the cream cheese thouroughly without overmixing.

  • Spread 1/2 of mix on each tortilla evenly from edge to edge and roll up tightly. If any mix squeezes out as you roll, scrape it off and use it to fill the ends.

  • Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and cool in the fridge, preferably overnight.

  • Slice into 1/3" slices with a very sharp knife.

  • Sprinkle salt lightly over the top.

  • Slice remaining red chiles thinly and press one slice into the top of each piece. You can also top with different things, such as dried, crushed red pepper, hot Hungarian paprika, etc.

For Aimée's version, use diced New Mexico green chiles in place of hot chiles, and add a tablespoon of sour cream to the mix. Drain the chiles well from the can and pat dry with paper towel before mixing. (Or roast your own and chop finely as above.)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Things You Can Die From

I stumbled on a fabulous site,, containing scads of fascinating articles on science issues in language non-specialists can follow. This one is about the odds of dying from one particular thing or another.

It's a little hard to conceptualize. When we're born, it's as if each of us spins a giant wheel of fortune that keeps spinning and spinning until we die. If your odds from dying of heart disease are 1 in 5, then a fifth of the wheel is one big block labeled "Heart Disease."

Each person's wheel is a little different from the national averages shown in the article. An airline flight crew member would have a larger slice devoted to "Airline Disaster" than a person who never flies, and a nuclear plant worker would have a larger segment devoted to "Cancer." A few slices, such as "Catastrophic Collision Between the Earth and Another Astral Body" take up only a tiny portion of the wheel, but if one person lands on it, almost everyone else will too. The wedges on our personal wheels are not static, but fluctuate as our risk factors change due to health and circumstances of life.

When you wake up each day, be grateful that your wheel is still spinning. And do what you can to enlarge the section labeled "Just Got Really, Really Old and Faded Gracefully Away."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I've heard of targeted advertising, but ...

Most Intense
Monster Hurricane
in History Headed
for Florida!

Caribbean Islands
Facing Imminent

Get Your Rain Gear
Now! Before It's Too Late!!!

Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery


Saturday, October 8, 2005

Hank Dogs

If you've never heard the music of Hank Dogs, check it out. It's a folksy British acoustic trio of a dad, daughter, and ex-stepmom who perform wonderful singer songwriter material in a Modern Americana or Alternative Country style, with ethereal harmonies and guitar. The lyrics are melancholy, often about interpersonal relationships from the point of view of someone who has absorbed the vocabulary of psychological self-help enough to affect their world view. The title track of their second album Half Smile (just recently released in Britain) includes the gem,

Clever as always with your timing
another kick when a person's down.
Springtime, little rosebuds,
the upturned corners of a half smile.

The delivery is mysterious and haunting, with well-paced repetitions and dark, lilting vocal harmonies that underscore the speaker's bitterness. We often listen to this album while we're going to sleep; it's soft and soothing despite the melancholy overtones in most of the lyrics and much of the music.

The album is full of psychodramatic tidbits of interpersonal dysfunction:

Sitting here my guts aching
Don't you think by the morning I'll still
Have a clear picture
I'm held, you say I think I'm held
Against a wall, I'm pinned not against my will ...

and also poignant insights like this snapshot of life in the countryside:

This is our track, hidden away up in West Wales,
Five years old & riding bareback ...
Whole way, whole way she goes,
Saving her money for a horse of her very own.

I recently got hold of their first album, Bareback, and it's also really wonderful. I keep playing the song "Daddy's Arms" over and over. Hank Dogs is totally one of my favorite bands now.

Visit the Hank Dogs' Home Page!
(Includes some audio and video clips)

Buy their CD's at Amazon!

Download Bareback at E-Music!
(Pay service, requires subscription to use).

Friday, October 7, 2005

Zen Moment

I was at the campus bookstore today when a woman called and said, "Do you have a ceramic tip jar with a cork top, that says "Girls' Night Out"?

Saturday, October 1, 2005

A "Shushing" Rule With Teeth In It

I have no idea if (or if so, how often) they actually enforce this, but in Massachusetts you can get fined fifty bucks and spend a month in jail for making noise in the library. My question is, would it be a crime against chastity, morality, decency, or good order? (Or all of the above? After all, it says "and good order," not "or.")

Sometimes I wish they had a law like this in Illinois!




Section 40: Disturbance of schools or assemblies

Whoever wilfully interrupts or disturbs a school or other assembly of people met for a lawful purpose shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than one month or by a fine of not more than fifty dollars; provided, however, that whoever, within one year after being twice convicted of a violation of this section, again violates the provisions of this section shall be punished by imprisonment for one month, and the sentence imposing such imprisonment shall not be suspended.

Section 41: Disturbance of libraries

Whoever wilfully disturbs persons assembled in a public library, or a reading room connected therewith, by making a noise or in any other manner during the time when such library or reading room is open to the public shall be punished as provided in the preceding section.