Saturday, October 17, 2020

Smoke gets in your eyes, but smoked paprika should get in your chicken & potatoes

I was at the supermarket this morning, browsing the meat aisle when I stumbled across a 4-pack of plump BONELESS chicken thighs for $1.37.  Whoa, Nellie!  Four chicken thighs at that price is nice, but for boneless I think somebody boo-booed. 

I snatched it up with plans to make my Asian chicken again (I blgged about it a month ago, click here).  But back in June I paid a small fortune for a small tin of smoked paprika, and I’ve been anxious to cook with it. 

I washed & patted them dry, then dumped ‘em into a Reynolds cooking bag (not to cook, but to marinate) along with 2 tblspoons olive oil, 1 tblspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon dried minced garlic, & a couple shakes of pepper. 

(You’ll notice I didn’t add salt, you’ll see why shortly.)  Anyway, I tied up the bag and SQUEEEEEZED those thighs good to soak up everything, then let it sit in the fridge for an hour.

Don’t these look nice?  I plopped the chilled thighs down into a pot with a couple tablespoons of olive oil to fry 2-3 minutes on both sides.  (They’ll cook fully later.)


I added one small onion chopped, a bag of those mini Gold Yukon potatoes (around 10, halved) & one cup baby carrots.  Stir everything around on low-medium heat for 10 minutes or so, until the onions turn translucent.

Now I’m pouring in one cup of chicken stock.  You can probably get away with using one cup of water, but I made my stock using a Knorr Chicken Bouillon cube in a cup of boiling water.  This brew is salty, which is why I didn’t add salt earlier. 

I put a lid on (at an angle, to let steam escape) and let it summer & reduce for 20-25 minutes.

Here we go!  I sprinkled a little dried parsley on top.  You may need a knife for the chicken but it’s supersoft tender, and those potatoes and carrots will melt in your mouth.  

(Psst… I added a dollop of sour cream on the side after I took the picture.  So good!)

Friday, October 9, 2020

In for a pennie, in for a pound… wait, what’s a pennie?

Yesterday I received a letter from the Healthcare Marketplace (also known as the Federal Exchange).  Managed by the Federal government, it’s for people like me who no longer have employer based health insurance but can still show an income of at least $17,500, aren’t poor enough for Medicaid & aren’t old enough for Medicare.

Also known as Obamacare, I’d be a goner without it.  My monthly premium would be $758.00—5 times what I pay now for a no-frills silver plan.  I could never afford that.  

Some states like New York, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Vermont, Minnesota & Washington have their own State Exchanges—and according to this letter I received, effective November 1, 2020 Pennsylvania will join that list.

I went to and took a look around.. it’s an impressive setup, I’m surprised this is the first I’ve heard of it.

I’ve never had any real problems with the Federal Exchange, but I suppose now there will be a couple less hoops to jump thru.  Governor Wolf (our Democratic governor) says that by having our own exchange, the state will save at least 50-75 million dollars a year (versus paying the Feds 90 million to manage things, wow!) and guarantees those savings will be used to reduce monthly premiums 5-10%. 

I can’t speak for others who may be dealing with higher costs than myself, but I’m already grateful for the affordable insurance I have.

Of course, it warns if President Trump is successful in having the Supreme Court strike down the ACA, “pennie” will also cease to exist.

I believe that most people assume such a thing wouldn’t REALLY happen… but more & more, I can see it.  Trump succeeded in having the individual mandate that required everyone have insurance struck down… why is he going after the rest of it?

Because he’s an effing lunatic and he can. 

A few days ago, several of us were outside “on the front stoop” (the wide entrance to our apartment building) sitting in chairs and enjoying the last of the warm weather, when another tenant (don’t know the man’s name) came out and said “Can I ask everyone something.  My sister is coming to visit, and we’re both… we’re patriotic, we support our president.  I know how most of you feel, but I don’t want my sister to hear it.”  

He went back into the building, and Helen said “Well!” and a couple others snorted or laughed.  I said “Sometimes I wish I could turn myself into a monkey.”   Mary Bean said “Why?  So you can fling your poop at him?” and everyone laughed.

I laughed too, but that wasn’t the reason.  I wanted to rip his face off.  And on that wicked thought, I sure hope we can keep the ACA—and pennie!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Forty years later and yes, I’d do it all over again

Last night on the local news, they were talking to two young men who were best friends and Biden volunteers.  They had voted for Trump in their first election in 2016, but now regretted it.

They should’ve regretted it the day after that election when Trump won!  Anyway, I’ll never forget my first election, Jimmy Carter vs Ronald Reagan in 1980.  I registered as a Democrat the year prior when I turned 18 and had to sign up for Selective Service. 

Are 18 year old males still required to register with Selective Service?  Yep!  (I just checked.)  I’ll never forget my older brother Duke teasing me about getting drafted, as he never had to worry.  Selective Service was halted in the early 1970s when Gerald Ford was president, but after Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976, got reinstated. 

But it only affected guys born 1960 & up (like me).  Males born between 1957 & 1959 (like my older brother) were never required to register.

Speaking of Duke, in the fall of 1980 he was a senior at Pitt University and married to his first wife Cheryl.  I was still at home, and went along with Mom & Dad to cast my first presidential vote.  Sometime after we got home, Duke called and asked if I’d voted and who I voted for.  (He knew better than to ask Mom or Dad that!) 

I told him Jimmy Carter, knowing fully well my brother (who was ultra-Republican and a Nazi stormtrooper in a previous life) would go ballistic—which he did.  I could almost hear the veins in his head popping as he told me I was worthless and that after he got into politics he’d ensure commies like me never got near a voting booth again.

(That sounded so crazy back then, but if you’re a minority or a Democrat now… you know.  Good luck getting your ballot to count.)  

Anyway, we know how things turned out—Reagan got like 500 electoral votes, I think the entire country voted for him except for the state of Georgia (Carter Country) & me.  President Carter got a raw deal over that Iranian hostage crisis and Reagan took all the credit.  I’m still ticked about that.

Speaking of Jimmy Carter, this biography was just released September 29 and my copy is on its way!  Say what you will about his presidency, the man is a saint

I will admit I didn’t vote in ‘84; I knew Mondale didn’t stand a chance against Reagan, and he got creamed alright.  But I never skipped an election again, and in 1992 when the VP of Omega Systems (my first IT employer) pleaded with everyone to vote for Bush and not “that socialist Bill Clinton”, I couldn’t vote for Bill & Hillary fast enough!

Weirdly, this happened again in 2008 when I worked for UPMC and our IT manager asked everyone to pray Barack Obama not get elected, or we’d all lose our jobs to socialized healthcare. 

(I’m still waiting for that, by the way.)

And on that happy note, I just got an update—my vote for this presidential election has been received & recorded.  Donald Trump, you’re about to become Donald Toast!