My wife is gluten-free, and has been for five or six years now. And people often ask, “Is it a real pain to do that? How do manage to make that work?” The truth is, it’s actually not all the hard anymore. More and more companies and making gluten-free products, and they’re getting cheaper, and more stores are carrying them.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some things that we just can’t really have anymore (and, yes, I try to keep down the number of things I eat that she can’t – things like the cheddar-biscuits at Red Lobster). One of the things my wife always loved, and couldn’t have anymore, was fried mushrooms.

You know, the little brown deep-fried balls of goodness, served with a side of ranch dressing!

Things have been a little tough for us lately, with some financial stresses and some health issues for various friends and family members. So, when she mentioned recently that she was really missing fried mushrooms, I decided that I would poke the old interwebs and see what I could scare up. All hail the Google!

And sure enough, I found plenty of recipes, but not a whole lot of gluten-free ones which looked like they would be worth our time. So, I decided I would experiment. I had a gluten-free flour I was fairly happy with, and I knew I could find some gluten-free break crumbs to use. Now to pick my recipe.

I decided to go with this one as my starting point, knowing that I would need to make a few adjustments along the way. And, I have to say, we were very happy with the results! So, I figured I’d share what I did in case someone else might find it helpful (and as my wife just now pointed out, we foodies are never really short of things to blog about – she’s totally right).

Hardware. Here’s the hardware you’re going to need:

  • 3 quart pot
  • a good slotted spoon or spider-basket
  • a frying thermometer (no, this is not optional – you can get one for about $3, just do it)
  • 2 sheet pans with a lip, lined with tin foil
  • 2 cooling racks set into aforementioned sheet pans
  • a small or medium mixing bowl
  • a sturdy whisk
  • a small small bowl for the bread crumbs
  • measuring spoons and cups
  • toothpicks (I prefer round)

Why 2 sheet pans with cooling racks? Well, it’s good to have one you can use for prep, and one you can use after scooping the mushrooms out of the oil. You can certainly get by with just 1 (that’s what I did), but have a second makes things a little easier. Likewise, the tin foil is optional, but trust me, it makes clean up so much easier. I also recommend using a pot that is taller than it is wide. This will help keep the oil temperature a little more constant (that’s also why you want the thermometer), and it will allow any little burnt particles to settle to the bottom and not stick to your mushrooms.


  • 16-24 oz of white cap mushrooms (2-3 of the little plastic containers from the store; if you’re going for bulk ones, pick the smaller mushrooms)
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour – I used Cup 4 Cup
  • 1/2 cup corn startch
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic power
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups gluten-free bread crumbs – I tried both Schar and Glutino
  • Frying oil (I used vegetable oil), enough to fill the pot 1/2 to 2/3 full
  • salt for seasoning

A word on ingredients. I really like the Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour; I’ve always been fairly pleased with the way it works. The King Arthur brand is also good, but I haven’t tried frying with it so I don’t know how it would work here. Regardless, what you’re looking for is something that comes as close to regular wheat flour as you can. So the plain almond flour or rice flour – ones that have not been mixed with other things like xantham gum – aren’t going to work. I added the garlic powder and onion salt instead of regular salt in the batter, but you can do what you want. Other options might be a little cayenne or a dash (just one dash, no more!) of Worcester. About the bread crumbs – I had bought the Glutino ones because I wasn’t sure I was going to have enough of the Schar. They both work, but the Glutino ones are more like corn bread crumbs, so they resulted in a very different kind of fried-mushroom. No bad by any means, but different (more like hush-puppies). Next time I do this, I’m just going with the Schar.

Cooking Instructions.

  1. Wipe the mushrooms clean – DO NOT WASH! If you wash them, they will be wet and the batter won’t stick very well. Wiping them clean with a paper towel is just fine. If you absolutely have to wash them, do it early in the day and let them dry thoroughly before starting to cook.
  2. Skewer each mushroom through the bottom of its stem with a toothpick, and set them on the rack in one of your sheet pans.
  3. Combine flour, corn starch, baking power, garlic powder, and onion salt in your small or medium bowl. Mix well with the whisk.
  4. Add 1 cup of the water and combine with the whisk. You may need to add more water (hence the 2nd cup), but do so a little at a time, until the batter is about the consistency of pancake batter. Set it aside while you do the next couple steps.
  5. Pour your bread crumbs in your small bowl.
  6. Begin to heat the oil in the pot over medium to medium-high heat, depending on your stove. You want the oil to reach 350-360 F. Clip the frying thermometer to side of the pot (in the oil, please, not on the outside), and use that to keep an eye on your temperature throughout the cooking process.
  7. While the oil is heating, holding the toothpick, dip each mushroom in the batter, letting most of the extra drip off. Set each batter-coated mushroom back on the rack in your prep sheet pan so more of the extra batter can drip off. Don’t remove the toothpick, just leave it right where it is. Do this for 6-8 mushrooms.
  8. Once the extra batter has dripped off the mushroom, coat each one with bread crumbs in the little bowl, and place it back on the prep rack, again leaving the tooth pick in place. And go on to the next batch of 6-8 mushrooms.
  9. Once the oil reaches that 350-360 F, carefully drop 4-6 mushrooms in the oil by holding the toothpick and sliding the mushroom off using a fork. You can now get rid of the toothpicks!
  10. As the first batch of mushrooms is cooking, keep dipping, resting, breading, and resting the remaining mushrooms. You’ll notice that you’ve now got a bunch of the dripped-off batter on that prep rack – that’s why having a second one will come in useful in a couple minutes!
  11. Fry the mushrooms until they are golden brown, using your slotted spoon to gently stir and turn them every little bit. And watch your oil temp and adjust as needed!
  12. Once the mushrooms are golden brown all over, use your slotted spoon or spider-basket to scoop them out and put them on your second rack – the one without all the extra batter on it! Immediately give them a sprinkle of salt; you want to do this while they still have a little oil on them.
  13. Repeat steps 9-12 until all the mushrooms are fried up. If your house is anything like mine, you won’t have to worry about the mushrooms getting cold because people will be eating them as soon as they’re cool enough to handle! If you do need to store them for a bit while you cook up the rest, just keep that second rack in a warm oven, with mushrooms all in a single layer.
  14. Serve hot with your choice of dipping sauce(s) – my wife and I are traditionalists in this regard, we just use ranch dressing.

I know this sounds like a lot of work for some silly fried mushrooms, but when you’re gluten-free and you can’t just go down to the pub and get some, it’s worth putting the effort in every now and then. And I haven’t tried it yet, but I strongly suspect that this same recipe would work wonderfully for gluten-free onion rings as well – just dust each ring with a little corn starch before dipping them in the batter (it’s a moisture control thing).

Hopefully, this will be useful to some of you other gluten-free people out there – enjoy!

Now, I’m not normally a big fan of political pledges. Gods know, I have railed against them in the past. But, I have to admit, this has gotten my attention.

I don’t normally read Politico, but I saw a story yesterday that got picked up by the Huffington Post. It said that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has been working with a group of national progressives to take a page from Newt Gingrich’s playbook and draft a “Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality.” And he’s going to present it this coming Tuesday . . . on the steps of U.S. Capitol.

I will, of course, withhold judgement the Agenda until I actually see what’s in it. The fact that Joseph Stiglitz and John Del Cecato (who helped get de Blasio elected) were involved bodes well, however. As does that fact that, according to the Politico article, the following people (all of whom I respect) have signed on: “Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.); Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.); Marian Wright Edelman and Howard Dean; national labor leaders; and actors Susan Sarandon and Steve Buscemi.”

All of this is very encouraging. This could be an opportunity to really push the Democratic Party toward a more progressive and populist stance. It also has the potential to really energize a lot people on the Left (regardless of what political party they may or may not belong to). This might serve as a central, organizing philosophy which could help change the political arena for years to come; it could give the Left a unified ideology, instead of the coalition of ideologies we have now. And I very strongly believe that such as change is not only desirable, but is necessary.

However . . .

My wife and I were talking about this last night, and we both agreed that this also has the great potential to be really bad move (at least right now). After both of us reading the bio piece on Mayor de Blasio in Rolling Stone (online here and in the May 21st print issue), we’re a little afraid that he might make the mistake of trying to go too far, too fast.

While there are a number of people in the country right now who identify as “Progressives,” we are by no means a majority. That means that we have to be wary of doing things that will cause a majority of people (and especially voters) to view Progressives in the same way we view the “Right-Wing Nut Jobs” (RWNJs) – you know, the ones who are convinced that the up-coming, routine military training exercise is actually a secret plot by the “Guvmnt” to seize control of Texas and impose martial law, using tunnels under empty Wal-Marts as bases (and they really do believe this crap).

If de Blasio’s “Progressive Agenda” goes too far, that’s the kind of reaction many could have not just the Agenda but to Progressives in general. And that would mean that it could well lose support from mainstream Democrats, centrists, and a number of independents.

I have heard a great deal of talk in the last few years about how “more people are becoming independents” and how “independents tend to lean more to the Left.” Statistically, this is true; however, it seems that some people are reading too much into that. The implication that some draw from this is that the growing number of independents helps to strengthen the Democrats. While the number of people who identify as “independent” has been steadily increasing since about 2004, the percentage of those independents who lean either Democratic or Republican pretty much mirrors the Dem/Rep split overall. About 48% of independents lean Democratic and 39% lean Republican, while the remaining 13% don’t have a leaning one way or the other. (Here are the numbers from the Pew Research Center from just last month.) In other words, just because more people are identifying as independents does not mean that the Democratic party is getting stronger. In fact, in the last 20 years, the percentage of people who identify as Democrat has remained almost the same!

Now, that’s not to say that I think de Blasio is wrong to be pushing for a Progressive Agenda, or that I’m likely to disagree with what the plan will probably be calling for – just the opposite. I AM one of those Progressives who occasionally makes other people look at them askance. But I’m also a very observant and rather (happily) cynical person, with at least a somewhat sophisticated understanding of people and historical systems.

My concern is the timing of this.

It has become increasingly clear to me that we, as a country, are moving toward the next major political party realignment. This has been building for a number of years now, but I think we’re finally within less than two generations. And we’re probably pass-due for one; the last real realignment was back in 1932 with the election of FDR, when it had become clear that the world had dramatically changed and the Republican party of the time simply could not adapt while the Democrats could. That realignment was triggered by an extended period of economic hardship the majority of the population, a number of divisive cultural issues, and a wide-spread dissatisfaction with the political status quo – any of this sounding familiar?*

I think that the bulk of the Republican party (as we know it today) is going to continue to decline in numbers as their older voters die. These are the people who really make the middle of the Republican bell-curve. As they die, the remaining parts of the party are going to be (1) the extremists (the aforementioned Right-Wing Nut Jobs) and (2) the centrist/moderate Republicans, and most of these are going to be the social moderate/fiscally conservative Republicans. And unless/until something is done about Citizens United, a lot of those arch-conservative campaign donors are going to continue to pump money into the RWNJ candidates in the primaries (and I don’t think anything will or can be done until after the coming realignment for exactly that reason). Which means that we will very likely see more of those RWNJ candidates make it to the general elections. I see this causing more of those centrist and/or moderate Republicans to move more to the center, creating a schism the “Republican party.” Just think of the prominent politicians who have already left the Republican party, specifically because it has been hijacked and is no longer the party they originally joined – Charlie Crist, Arlen Specter, and Lincoln Chafee.

At the same time, I think we’re going to see a similar divergence in the Democratic Party. The “Clinton-Democrats” (I mean the BILL Clinton ones from the ’90s), who are socially liberal but financially moderate, will start to pull back from the more progressive Democrats – the Bill de Blasios of the party specifically and the Bernie Sanderses of the country in general.

Before too long, I think the centrist/moderates of both the Left and Right will coalesce into a new “establishment” on the Right. I suspect that at that point, the Republican “brand” will be too damaged for them to want to keep using that name, and they’ll likely call themselves “the Democratic-Republicans” or “Moderate Party.” There’s a possibility that they’ll just stick “Democrats” as well. Meanwhile, the RWNJs will become the Right’s Green Party, a 3rd party that keeps hanging around causing political problems for the Right, but who do not typically pose a serious challenge to the new “establishment” in big races, the way the Green Party has been for Democrats in the past. Over time, they will like be absorbed into the Libertarian Party. Finally, the more progressive Democrats will evolve into the Progressive Party, which will be socially liberal and at least a little bit socialist economically. (Speaking of the Green Party, I think they’ll mostly merge into the new Progressive Party.)

So what does all of this have to do with de Blasio’s agenda? Well, while I see this grand party realignment happening, I think it’s going to take us another 15 to 20 years to get there. And, from what I can tell from that Rolling Stone bio on him, de Blasio definitely falls in that yet-to-be-established Progressive Party. Which means that there is a real risk that he may be jumping the gun, and trying to do too much, too soon, and that might scare enough people off that nothing comes of his “Progressive Agenda” any time soon.**

On the other hand, however, given that he brought in a pretty good group of very intelligent and politically savvy people to help craft this, it is also very possible that this could be exactly the nuanced but idealistic push that is needed to really get the Democrats back in control (and give them the ideological framework they need to actually get things done) – much in the way that Newt’s “Contract for America” did for the Republican party no so long ago.***

Of course, a lot of this is pure speculation at this point. He’s not going to be actually presenting this until this coming Tuesday. Will it be too aggressive and drive people away, or will it be that nuanced stance that draws people to it? Either way, it’s likely to be interesting!

*Although I agree that we are now in the Sixth Party system, I view that as more of a slow “party shuffle” or “party bleed,” rather than a true realignment. I don’t think we’ve really had a party realignment since FDR.

**As a side note, I’m a little surprised de Blasio’s making such an aggressive move for more national prominence this soon after being elected Mayor of NYC. Yes, that job can be a major stepping stone for someone who wants to be a player on the national stage, but he only came into office in 2014. If he had waited four year and then made this move, it wouldn’t have surprised me in the least. Because the only place for him to move up to is the national level. Let’s face it, he’s too far to the Left to ever get elected as NY’s governor; the vast majority of Upstate NY is way too conservative to ever vote for him.

*** While I really don’t care for the results, even I have to admit that Newt’s “Contract” was really effective. It did exactly what he wanted to do, and we’re still feeling the effects of it today.

One of the reasons that I’ve been so quite for so long is that I’ve spent the last couple years in a work situation which was – well, to say that it was killing me is an exaggeration, but only a slight one. Without going into too many specifics (as bad as it was, I’m not inclined to completely torch that bridge), I worked for a small city in Planet New York, which has spent the last 30+ years bemoaning the fact that the local economy tanked in the 1980s and has never recovered. Ever since then, there has been an struggle in the community about how to improve things. The two sides basically boil down to: “We just need another Big Business to come save us” (the old, reactionary crowd) and “We need to think in new ways” (the forward looking, proactive side) – care to take any bets on which camp I fell into?

For most of the time I was working there, the Mayor was in the second group, while most of City Council was in the first – made for some very interesting interactions.

Anyway, new Mayor was elected, which meant a lot of new appointments, including the new Mayor’s decision to replace the head of my department. We were all very sorry to see him go, as he had worked very hard over the years to try and make the community a better place to live. Most of us were not very surprised as the new Mayor was in the “old reactionary” group and the department head was definitely progressive.

So January 1 rolls around and we’re all waiting to hear who the new department head is going to be . . . and nothing. And then in February . . . nothing. And March . . . nothing. We didn’t actually get word that he had hired someone until late April, and were told at that time the new director wasn’t going to start until early May, but would then likely be gone for a couple of weeks [to be fair, she was going to be gone for the birth of a grandchild].

So, our department had gone from having a strong, progressive leader to having NO ONE for nearly half a year. And in the midst of all of this, we were running ourselves ragged trying to get a new Comp Plan for the City done.

Eventually, the new director starts. And, as with any new boss, we were expecting there to be a breaking-in period. What we didn’t expect was that she was going to be a complete idiot. We had been told that she had more than 20 years experience in planning and had experience running a housing program. Now, my background is not in planning; it’s in history and preservation; it became clear real quick, however, that I knew more about planning than she did. She could not read a site plan; even after several months, she had no idea what was in our Zoning Code; we were constantly having to explain stuff to her that even our 1st year planner understood.

And this kind of stupidity wasn’t just once in a while; it was all the time. And she would usually try to hide it by blaming others. We had one occasion where a particular bit of paperwork didn’t get done for a housing project the way it was supposed to. You know, it happens; it’s not the end of the world. And the same paperwork had been getting done reliably on all the projects for the previous 3 or 4 years. And it wasn’t like this paperwork was going to hold the project up or anything; it was just a basic environmental review form we have to have on hand in case we ever got audited by the Feds. This one time, it just got missed. Anytime there was something in housing program she didn’t understand, she used this one mistake as an excuse to call all of the housing program staff “incompetent” and say that “they didn’t know what the hell they were doing.” And she would say this directly to other staff in the department!

And now you begin to see what made her such a bad boss. We probably could have worked around the incompetence in the long run (and did in the short term). No, the real problem was that she was trying to cover her own ass by treating all of us like shit. Bad mouthing staff in front of other staff, and sometimes members of the public. Blaming her mistakes on us. Lying to us, and to other department heads and City Council about us (she said, during the budget hearings, that all we did was attend commission meetings and collect comp time). Treating any question we asked like we were somehow challenging her authority. She tried to get rid of the Senior Planner by eliminating that position “for budget reasons,” which was really stupid because, under our union system, the Senior Planner simply bumped the Planner (luckily, he was able to get another position in City Hall, so he wasn’t out of a job right after his first child being born and him buying a house!). There was no real budgetary reason for eliminating the position; there was another position, with a higher salary, which was already vacant. No, she wanted to get rid of the Senior Planner because the director didn’t like her. She tried to give us a direct order to break NY’s open meetings law, and when I brought the City attorney into the email discussion on this, she yelled at me and told us we were not to discuss things with other departments. And finally the big one – sexual harassment of both female and male staff (yes, sexual harassment can and is directed at men, too – believe me).

Eventually, we actually did file a complaint with HR about her. HR basically tried to pull a snow-job on the whole thing, not cooperating with our Union rep and doing a hack job on writing up our statements (thankfully we were able to rewrite to be accurate).

And, in the end, absolutely nothing happened.

HR and the administration decided we were all lying, or were blowing things out of proportion.

So, between a couple years of the old, reactionary crowd being in power, and the insanity surrounding the new director, I simply was too tired, too stressed, to frustrated to try and carry on posting things. It was about all I could do to take care of the day-to-day stuff around the house. And what little free time I had left was used job hunting (which is its own kind of stress and frustration).

But, I now have a new job, back home in the West, closer to both my and my wife’s families. And it’s a job I’m loving.

The epilogue from back in Planet New York? I left in early January. The Senior Planner finally got fed up and quit about a week after I left (they were trying to make her carry out the same duties as the Senior Planner position under the Planner title, while paying her more than $10,000 a year LESS). And the last remaining planner went into negotiations with another City and recently started her new job. And the evil director – she got fired after being in the position less than a year. Unfortunately the community, the damage had already been done, the entire planning division (who had put together a comp plan which was so good it actually got some national attention) is now gone – and they’re stuck with one new planner trying to do the job of four of us (who had actually been doing the work of 5 due to that position which had been left vacant for a couple years).

I still keep tabs on what’s going on back there, and occasionally there are things which cause me to rant to my wife about of the idiocy – but those pretty much all end with me saying “But, it’s not my problem anymore!”

Hopefully, now that we’re getting settled into our new location, I’ll actually have the time and energy to get back to do some more writing – after all, I do love a good rant!

A Mouthful of (About) Cotton

Posted: April 5, 2015 in Politics
Tags: ,

I’m sure a great many people have heard about what went down in Indiana with their “Religious Freedom” law – and the subsequent fall out. I’m not going to talk about that.

What’s bugging me at the moment are the comments make by Sen. Tom Cotton a few days ago (you can read about it here). The long and short of it is he feels that people should be thankful that we in the US do not treat members of the LGBT community the same way they’re treated in places like Iran – in other words, they should be glad they’re not killed.Abhorrent as this idea is (and it really is), I’m troubled by an underlying concept here. He is effectively saying that because we’re better than other places, we shouldn’t feel the need to try and be better than we are now.

And this is a very dangerous notion.

There is always room for improvement, for us to do better. As we grow and develop and progress, we learn more about both ourselves and the world around us. We develop new perspectives and come to new understandings. We are constantly reevaluating our ideas, notions, and opinions in light of these new perspectives and understandings.To say that we’re doing things is “good enough” is not good enough. Not killing people because of their sexual orientation is good, but it’s not good enough. You know what would be really good? Actually treating people like people, and giving them the same respect and rights that you enjoy, Mr. Cotton. That would be “good enough.”

Oh Yeah, I Have a Blog

Posted: April 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

I know, I know. They’re kind of out of date at this point, but sometimes Twitter’s 140 characters aren’t enough and I’m just not a Facebook person. So here I am again. I’m thinking I’ll not be posting very often, but what the hell – let’s see what happens!

Current Recipe Favorite

Posted: August 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

Doing something a little different tonight – I’m not going off on a rant!

It’s not that I don’t have anything to rant about . . . I do, plenty of things . . . so much rage. But, they’re all pretty much directly work related, and wouldn’t make much sense without my providing a shit-ton of back-story. And that would mean a greatly increased chance of someone around here coming across it and figuring out who wrote it. That would be bad. So, it’s give out all that information and risk getting busted, give a cleaned up version which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, or write something else.

So, I’m going for the something else tonight. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll have more rants which can be published here soon.

So anyway, tonight’s topic is cooking.

I’m the one who cooks in our house. My wife freely admits that she can prepare dinner, but that’s different from cooking. I cook. Not every night, but often enough.

Tonight’s recipe was a baked chicken cordon bleu.

Start by taking two chicken breasts, trim them and use a good sharp knife to open a pocket inside the breast (I find it’s best to work from the thick end of the chicken breast). You want to get within about a 1/4 inch of the edge of the chicken breast so you’ll have plenty of room to stuff in the ham and cheese. You’ll want to do this slowly and carefully; it’s really easy to end up cutting yourself in the process (I haven’t, but I know plenty of people who have). Once you finished opening the chicken breasts, pat them dry with some paper towels. I know the traditional way of doing this is to pound the chicken flat and then roll the whole thing up; unless you really know what you’re doing and have the right kind of mallet, you’re more apt to just shred the chicken, so I like my way more.

Now is a good time to turn on the oven to 350F.

To stuff the chicken breasts, use about a 1/4 lb of deli ham, sliced very thin; use just a simple, off-the-bone or black forest ham – you don’t want to use a honey backed ham because it’ll taste weird. You’ll need about 4 ham slices per chicken breast (this is why you want them very thin). Place a slice of cheese between the ham slices, so it’s 2 slices of ham, 1 slice of cheese, and 2 more slices of ham. Traditionally, you would use swiss cheese for cordon bleu, but I’ve actually found that we prefer provolone. Fold the stack in half, length-wise, and carefully slide it into the pocket you cut in the chicken breasts. Make sure to get it as far in the chicken as possible; it’ll cut down on cheese leakage during baking.

For the breading, I use a gluten-free bread crumb from Schar, but that’s because the wife has a gluten sensitivity and these are the best bread crumbs I’ve found (really, they are very good, even if you’re not a gluten-free person, you’ll probably like these). Sprinkle out a bunch of bread crumbs on a plate and then add garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, some dried parsley, and a little bit of grated parmesan cheese. Mix it together really well. (You may notice here, I’m not giving any specific measurements for these ingredients; there’s a reason for this – I don’t measure, I just kind of go with whatever looks good.)

Coat the stuffed chicken breasts in egg. I use egg-beaters-type eggs, but you can also use real eggs beaten with a little water. Some people will tell you to use milk for this kind of thing. It certainly works, but you really need at least 2% milk, otherwise the bread crumbs won’t really stick. So, get a good coating of egg on the chicken and then gently roll it in the bread crumbs, and I really do mean gently. If you try to really pack the bread crumbs on, the end results are kind of gummy and not real appetizing. You want just enough bread crumbs to cover the chicken, so go easy and gently shake off any extra.

Place the breaded chicken on a broiler pan with the grill piece, which has been lightly sprayed with non-stick spray. A lot of people want to do baked chicken in a shallow pan or baking dish. I don’t like do that. When you use a pan or dish, all of the fluid which comes out in the cooking process just sits in the bottom of the pan and soaks the bread crumbs on the bottom of the chicken, and when you take it out of the pan, they just fall off – kind of defeats the purpose, huh? By going with a broiler pan, those fluids drain off and the bread crumbs stay a lot drier and crispier.

Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes depending on how big and/or thick the chicken breasts are. When the chicken is cooked all the way, take it out of the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes. The juices will redistribute in the chicken and the cheese will cool just enough that it doesn’t flow all over the plate like white molten lava when cut in.

All in all, it’s a pretty easy recipe with some very tasty results. One of the best things about this recipe is that it can be easily modified for other things. Want to do a simple crunchy baked chicken? Same process except without the slicing, rolling, and stuffing. Add a lot more pepper and a healthy dose of cayenne to the bread crumbs, use a sandwich size piece of chicken, and again skip the slicing, rolling, and stuffing, and you’ve got a home-make, gluten-free version of Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich. Use chicken tenders or slice the chicken breasts into long, thin strips, and you’ve got chicken fingers. We end up doing one these on a regular basis, and always enjoy it!

An Open Letter to HOAs

Posted: July 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

Dear Home Owners’ Associations,

First of all, I would like to say that I can respect a lot of what you do. When properly administered and run, HOAs can provide a wide range of benefits to a neighborhood: maintaining property values; making sure that everyone takes care of their property; providing amenities to residents (pools, parks, snow shoveling, etc). All of these are very good things.


All too often, I see HOAs which go off on major power trips and just end up looking stupid and petty. Walking around with rulers, measuring people’s grass length. Trying to dictate what kind/size of pets people can have. Telling military veterans how/when they can fly the American flag! Telling kids they can’t have a lemonade stand – on their own property! (And, yes, these are in fact all real examples.)

It seems that some of you HOAs need to be reminded of the real purpose of HOAs. It’s NOT to tell people how they should live. Rather, it’s making a neighborhood someplace people want live.

Want to know what will happen if you keep being so draconian? People will move out, which means property values might decline and you don’t want that.

So I ask, you, please, pull your collective heads out of your asses and go searching through your attic or basement to find you ability to use reason, logic, and compassion.

In other words, quit being dicks!

[And, no, I don’t live in a HOA-controlled neighborhood, but I’ve certainly dealt with enough of them and there have been a rash of recent news stories about incidents like those I listed above – and I felt something needed to be said.]