Sneaking Suspicions
Archives-- December 4-17, 2005

This page includes posts from December 4-17, 2005 in the usual reverse order. Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these archive pages.

December 15, 2005
Mushroom Sausage Risotto

I’m having fun messing around with Risotto recipes, which are well-received during the current cold spells that have been chilling us. The slow cooking and great smells make the kitchen a warm and inviting place. There’s a reason why folks say that Risotto is one of the great Italian comfort foods. 

This version is based on a recipe by Karen Walter.


4 Tbsp. cooking oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, sliced into fine disks
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8-10 medium white mushrooms, sliced
1 pound Andouille sausage
2 cups Arborio rice
6 cups chicken broth (I used a reduced sodium brand)
1 cup white wine
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese


Combine the broth and ½ cup white wine in a saucepan, and set to simmer.

In a large heavy sauté pan set at medium, heat the oil and then sauté the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots for a few minutes, until the onions and celery are softened. Then add the mushrooms, and continue to sauté until they begin sweating.

Add the remaining ½ cup white wine to the pan, and then add the rice, mixing well and cooking for a minute or so. Reduce the heat to low, and then begin adding the heated stock/wine mixture, a ladle or two at a time, to let the rice slowly absorb the liquid. Continue occasional stirring and adding liquid to the mixture, which will take a good 25 minutes or so.

During this absorption process, brown the sausage in another pan, and then drain and slice the links into pieces between ¼ and ½ inch thick.

By the time the stock is fully incorporated, the rice should be creamy. Add the sausage and the Parmesan cheese to the mixture, and let it sit covered for a few minutes.

Serves four, with perhaps a bit left over. A well-made beer, such as Yuengling's Chesterfield Ale, goes really well with this dish.

December 15, 2005
Election Day

Congratulations to the millions of Iraqi voters who flooded to the polls today for the next step in the conversion of their country to a parliamentary democracy.

We had our own election here today, conducted at a far more deeply mundane level. The Cape Henlopen School District held a referendum seeking taxpayer support to pay for air conditioning systems for the several schools in the District that still don't provide it.

Voter turnout here was incredibly light, which considering the lousy weather and the issue at stake was perhaps perfectly understandable. I voted for the proposal, because the improvements are long overdue, but these referenda are often nail-biters for their proponents. The folks who don't want to raise their taxes are usually more likely to act on that opinion by making the modest effort to vote the way they feel.

School referenda and similar small-scale exercises in American democracy often suffer from ridiculously low turnout. Perhaps it is because so many of us have rarely had occasion to be reminded how lucky we are to be able to vote in the first place, compared to millions of others on this planet.

If the Iraqis successfully complete their transformation, however, I'll bet they show up in droves for modest referenda like this Cape school vote whenever they have the chance.

There's nothing like being deprived of something to make one appreciate it even more upon its return.

December 15, 2005
A quick spell-check might have prevented the insult

Today's spam was a bit more insulting than usual.

I don't think these folks really care about my love life, my need for pharmaceuticals of dubious origin, or how I could possibly pay off all the mortgage money they want to throw at me. Even so, you'd think that they would be a little more careful about running a spell-check on their unwanted ads.

Here's the subject line from an email touting a new diet pill:

Slimer you

Not nice--not nice at all.

December 15, 2005
The Art House Theater

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society is planning for the January 6, 2006 start to its new Art House Theater programming, at the Movies at Midway on Route One.

Under an agreement with the theater owner, the RBFS will provide the programming for one of the 14 screens there. The goal is to bring to this area some of the best available independent films throughout the year.

The new project is in addition to the Society's popular Film Festival, held each November.

I readily agreed to help publicize this exciting addition to the local arts scene, since I'm on the RBFS Board of Directors.

Once I know what will be showing, I'll post an announcement each week near the top of the Home Page, and keep it there.

This is going to be so cool.

December 11, 2005
Not these gifts--please

The golf column this week is an annual favorite, in which my letter to Santa describes some golf-related gifts that I'd really rather not receive.

You might like it, even if you're not a golfer.

December 11, 2005
Keep it up, Joe

I voted for Joe Lieberman in the 2004 Delaware presidential primary.

As it turned out, I was in woefully insufficient company, and Lieberman quit soon after the disappointing results were announced.

Nonetheless, I also couldn’t help noticing that a blistering 7% of all registered Delaware Democrats had voted for the winner, Kerry. Given the ridiculously low turnout, I decided that Lieberman’s departure from the race didn’t undermine the validity of his foreign policy stance, which was the main reason I supported him.

Fortunately, Senator Lieberman has continued to press his views on national defense and foreign relations, especially with respect to the Iraqi conflict. This short passage from a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece well captures his thoughts and mine on that issue:

[T]he Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood--unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn.

Apparently his arguments in favor of a rigorous defense of our nation’s interests continue to annoy some of those who claim to lead our Democratic party. Here’s a sample from a recent piece by NYT reporters Raymond Hernandez and William Yardley:

… Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut has become an increasingly unwelcome figure within his party, with some Democrats seeing him more as a wayward child than a favorite son.

In the past few days, the senator has riled Democratic activists and politicians with his vigorous defense of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq at a time some Democrats are pressuring the administration to begin a withdrawal.

With all due respect to my fellow Democrats, Senator Lieberman has the better argument, even if it happens to be shared by the current Administration: 

We are fighting on the side of the 27 million because the outcome of this war is critically important to the security and freedom of America. If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again and to further undermine the growing stability and progress in the Middle East, which has long been a major American national and economic security priority….

What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory. 

Joe’s still right about this—and Democrats like me should do more to let the rest of the Party know that. 

There’s no advantage to the Party’s long-term interests to continue to be identified with the folks who hope to see Iraq’s fledgling democracy fail, primarily because they think that an Administration debacle overseas will further their own parochial interests here at home.

December 6, 2005
Three Claudes for a two-killer headline

I’d like to think that the headline writers for The News-Journal, the Gannet Company’s statewide newspaper in Delaware, were actually trying to fit a pun above a criminal justice story in today’s paper. 

They certainly came up with a Claude-worthy candidate, even if the pun was unintentional.

The report dealt with two convicted murderers, who several years ago shot a department store security guard on the day he was to testify against one of them on an unrelated theft charge. The judge then assigned to the case sentenced them to death, but the Delaware Supreme Court overturned that ruling on appeal. Their convictions remained, however, and on remand there was a new penalty hearing that stretched over two weeks.

Here’s how the headline writers chose to highlight the story this morning:

Convicted killers aim to avoid execution

Well, yeah—and oh, by the way, nice use of the word “aim” in that headline, eh?

Later today, the jury issued its findings. They unanimously agreed that the two men qualified for the death penalty, given the horrific nature of the crime of wiping out a witness. They also voted by margins of 10-2 and 11-1 to recommend that the death penalty be administered, a decision to be made later by the judge now assigned to the case. The vote margins in both cases were larger on this occasion than in the first penalty hearing.

It looks like these two killers didn’t aim right the second time, either.

The headline earns three Claudes, though.

December 5, 2005
What he said, along with his commenters

Glenn Reynolds had a good explanation for not filling the blogosphere earlier today with his usual couple dozen posts:

I'M HOME FROM HAVING A COLONOSCOPY -- everything went fine, but I think I'll let the drugs leave my system for a while longer before doing any serious blogging.

True to form, Reynolds then briefly discussed the benefits of having the procedure done, despite the ick factor that the name alone usually provokes:

A colonoscopy isn't just a diagnostic test -- if they find polyps, they can remove them, making it virtually certain that you won't get colon cancer. If you skip that because of squeamishness, well, you're just an idiot. Luckily, I was clean and don't have to go back for five years. By then, they may have replaced them with swallowable cameras, with actual scoping only when there's something that needs fixing. At any rate, though, there aren't many simple safe procedures that can absolutely prevent cancer, and this is one. Don't forego it because you're squeamish.

An oncologist Instapundit reader then wrote in with additional information about colorectal screening protocols, which you should read in its entirety.

At age 52, I happen to match the doctor's description of the typical candidates for this diagnostic test, which I took (and passed!) in mid-October.

The scoping itself went fine, not least of which because I was under general anesthesia. Other than having no sense of the passage of time during the event, there were no side effects.

The only unpleasant aspect was the preparation work done the day before, confined to the house to ensure ready access for the necessary "evacuation procedures."

As Glenn notes, however, a day largely spent sitting on the throne is a really small price to pay, considering the potentially awful alternative.

December 4, 2005
Shameless Self-Promotion

This morning I posted my most recent golf book review, which you can read here.

Geoff Shackelford's Lines of Charm is a compilation of pithy passages from books and magazine articles written during the Golden Age of golf course architecture, the early 20th century. Alister MacKenzie, Robert Hunter, A.W. Tillinghast, and other architects were a literate, witty bunch, in addition to being remarkably talented landscape designers.


Contact Information:

Fritz Schranck
P.O. Box 88
Nassau, DE  19969


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© Frederick H. Schranck 2002-2005