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Have You Ever Seen Changeling? It’s actually worth your valuable time (and really inspirational too).
The movie Changeling is not the 70s horror flick with George C. Scott and the ghost boy in the wheelchair (that would be The Changeling…and it scared the bejeebus out of me as a little kid…because apparently the addition of an extra three letters equals pure terror).
In 2008, Angelina Jolie starred in Changeling and I purposefully avoided seeing it in theaters because I’ve long believed Angelina Jolie is a cuckoo-bird. She wore a vial of her brother’s blood around her neck for a while, apparently dated him around the time she won her Oscar, and then stole Brad Pitt from Rachel from Friends. Being gay, I’ve never understood her sex appeal…but instead thought she was trash for participating in adultery. While I typically enjoy movies set in the 1920s and am fascinated by stories based on real-events, I just couldn’t get beyond my dislike for the actress to see this movie when it was new…and in years since I honestly never encountered it on DVD or on Netflix or even thought of it again.
But, while I was sick this last month I watched a lot of movies on Amazon Instant Video and somehow accidentally ordered Changeling when I probably wanted The Changeling…and so felt obliged to let the movie play, regardless of Angelin’a presence.
I’m truly glad that I did because not only was Angelina very good in the role (and gorgeous, too, incidentally…looking spot-on perfect as a woman in the 1920s without a vial of her brother’s blood in sight) but the story itself introduced me to two new American heroes in the form of Christine Collins and the Reverend Gustav Briegleb.
Collins (portrayed by Jolie in the film) was a mother whose young son went missing around 1927 in Los Angeles while she was away at work. The Los Angeles Police Department was the most corrupt in the world at the time and decided it wanted some good publicity…so they shipped in a runaway boy they found in Illinois and tried to pass him off as Collins’ son Walter. When Collins insisted that this stranger was not her son, the police ultimately decided to lock her up in a mental ward to shut her up so they wouldn’t have any more bad press over the fiasco. It’s so sad to admit it, but this is the sort of thing I can honestly see happening here in Chicago with Rahm Emanuel as Mayor and Democrats running the Justice Department nationwide.
Briegleb was a man with a radio show at the time who realized what happened to Collins and vowed to broadcast every day on the subject until everyone in listening range was riled up against the police for their abuse of power. He did just that…and ultimately forced Collins’ release. Watching the movie, he seemed to be the Andrew Breitbart of his day…which made me doubly sad because neither he nor Andrew are around anymore.
After Briegleb rescued her, Collins went after the police, sued the primary guy responsible for what happened to her, and kept suing him again and again through the years trying to force him to pay her the judgement she was awarded (which would have been about $400,000 adjusted for inflation). Someone with this sort of tenacity is amazing here in 2013…let alone in 1927 in Los Angeles…when no doubt most of her peers were terrified of being killed by those crooked cops in a “traffic accident” or “robbery” or something.
The movie could have been a gruesome, scary, serial killer story…but instead it was a very inspirational tale of a woman who just would not be broken and one who never gave up on finding her son. Christine Collins was absolutely amazing. I really hope that if I ever had a kid I’d fight for him or her as much as Collins waged all-out-war for hers.
I enjoyed the movie so much that I spent a few days researching what happened to everyone after the story told in the film ended. True to form, Christine Collins spent the rest of her life looking for her son. She lived until 1964 and apparently had to use aliases and change her name here and there because people affiliated with the crooked cops kept bothering her…even decades later. But, still she kept up her battle against the bad guys. And she never gave up hope that her son was still out there somewhere. Gustav Briegleb kept calling out the crooked police until the day that he died…and together with Collins he so embarrassed the City of Los Angeles that new laws had to be passed to prevent the police from ever again having the ability to just throw someone in a mental ward when they wanted to silence the person.
2013 is really starting out to be a bleak year and though the Ministry of Truth that is our national media won’t admit the obvious, we really are in an economic Depression. Things will get much, much worse in the days ahead as all of the many taxes prescribed by Obamacare drive companies out of business or force massive layoffs. Simultaneously, never in our lifetimes have we had so many people in government who believe they can do whatever they want to people and that they are answerable to no one. It all feels very reminiscent to Los Angeles in the late-1920s when Collins and Breigleb fought back.
I think a lot of you out there are going to be fighting back in your own ways in the years ahead. I hope you never go through anything like what happened to Collins…but in whatever challenges you do face I do hope you never give up, never surrender, and that you always speak truth to power. People today are scared of our government and the power it wields…and some are even afraid of being “disappeared” somewhere because they oppose what the Left is doing to the country (and what it will do in the next four years).
What I liked most about the movie Changeling is that it illustrates there is indeed an alternative to being too afraid to take on the “big guys” or the all-powerful government. I’m sure Collins was scared…and Angelina depicted her as being unsure what to do at times…but she would not let those monsters break her.
And in the end it was actually she who embarrassed and broke them.
What a great movie this ended up being…so good that I ended up doing something I almost never do and I bought the DVD so that I can watch it again one day when Justin’s home too.
It really is worth your valuable time the next night you want to put something on your video screen.
Today in History:
2011 — Attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona (which the Ministry of Truth that is our national media immediately tried to blame on the Tea Party or Governor Sarah Palin just so they could score a political punch against conservatives…when in fact the shooter ended up being a crazy person who actually was an Obama voter).
2004 — The Queen Mary 2 is christened by Queen Elizabeth II; it is the largest cruise ship ever built. If you ever wonder why it’s a “2″ instead of the Roman numeral “II” this is because the ship is the second to bear the name “Queen Mary” in the Cunard line and is not named for a “Queen Mary the Second”. It’s the same with the old QE2 liner, which was the second “Queen Elizabeth” liner in the Cunard line…not a ship named after the current Queen of England, Elizabeth II.
2002 — the odious “No Child Left Behind” nonsense is signed into law. Eleven years later, public school children are all still left behind because their teachers fill their heads with the Left’s indoctrination and the teachers’ unions make sure that any efforts to thwart this are prevented.
1982 -- AT&T is broken up into smaller regional parts. It’s so alien to even think of having to deal with AT&T in any form. Here in 2012, it’s now been eight years since I’ve had a land line.
1975 — First female Governor of a US state who did not succeed her husband into office: Ella T. Grasso takes office in Connecticut.
1964 — Lyndon Johnson declares “War on Poverty” in the US. In reality, Johnson only ended up declaring war on the black family unit…and all subsequent efforts by Democrats lumped under an umbrella of having anything to do with poverty were really aimed at removing black fathers from the home, encouraging teenaged pregnancies and abortions for young black women, and making black people dependent on the government for hand-outs. If Vietnam is the war that all public school history teachers universally call a “disaster”, then what the heck should they appropriately call the “War on Poverty”.
1963 — The Mona Lisa is displayed in the US for the first and only time, thanks to the beguiling efforts of First Lady Jackie Kennedy. I’m honestly torn on what to say about Jackie here, because I grew up in a house with her pictures on the wall and appreciate the stagecraft and branding efforts she did in the White House…but the Kennedy Family as a whole is just so despicable to me here in 2012 that I no longer have any residual good feelings for Jackie. Until about 10 years after she died I’d still hear one person a week call her the epitome of “Grace”, but really since Caroline took over the family’s brand management I’ve started to see Jackie as a ridiculous and manipulative person. She cheated on her husband with William Holden, the movie star; she believed all sorts of oddball conspiracies even before her husband was assassinated; she apparently swore like a sailor and said vile things about Martin Luther King when she didn’t think anyone important was listening who’d rat her out. She wasn’t Saint Jacqueline as much as she was the woman who knowingly exposed herself topless on a Greek Island when she was sure photographers would catch her doing it. She liked playing games like that…but I have to give her credit for playing enough of those games with France to convince them to transport their La Jocande across the ocean and bring it to the US. I doubt this will ever happen again because so much could have gone wrong with that shipment. It’s just still so marvelous that so many people got to see that famous painting who’d never be able to travel to Europe.
It’s often surprising to look back on things that happened in the past on a certain date and reevaluate how you feel about it all.
I’m actually startled by my change in feelings about Jackie Kennedy, because when I first moved to Chicago in 2005 the first thing I hung on my wall was a big Andy Warhol print of her that I bought in Pittsburgh at his museum. I ended up giving that framed print away to a neighbor when I moved in with my boyfriend Justin…because I just didn’t care to take it with me. I am that divorced from any emotional connection to the Democrat Party at this point and cannot conceive a future where I’d ever be able to look past all the bad these people do…just because a former First Lady sometimes showed “Grace” (when it was part of her PR plan, anyway).
Speaking of the opposite of “grace”, I’m truly sickened today when thinking about what Democrats did at their convention last September when they trotted former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords out onto the stage, when the poor woman obviously had no idea where she was or what she was doing there. That was deplorable…but yet again, it’s truly what the Democrat Party is today. It’s been two years since Giffords nearly lost her life in that shooting and it’s clear she’s never going to recover. I’m actually heartsick thinking about how she was paraded around in Charlotte…and how no grown-ups stepped in to tell anyone in the party that it was in truly bad taste to do this. I so wish they party had some sense of decency left and had allowed this woman to cling to some dignity. There is no reason at all that she shouldn’t have been allowed a quiet, private life away from the cameras when of course it was the Democrat Party that had always insisted that FDR and JFK should never be shown in their wheelchairs or in any sort of humiliating position because of their illnesses or injuries. My how that attitude changed in Charlotte when it came time to drag poor Gabby Giffords before the cameras to be gawked at.
Here in Chicago this 8th day of January in the year 2013 it’s bracingly cold…with the sort of chill that gets right into your bones. The new Obama taxes are hitting paychecks and a great many very foolish people are shocked that they have so much money left after taxes in this the Golden Age of Hope and Change. I know this is going to be a very sober and austere year for almost all of us…but I hope it truly is a sobering one for everyone out there that either voted for Obama or chose to sit home on Election Day. Right now, we could be gearing up for the inauguration of someone who actually had a plan for getting millions of people back to work…and instead, we’re just going to get another four years of high taxes and insane increases of health insurance premiums with job cuts and losses left and right. Hope! Change!
I still truly believe that America will endure and survive this…but it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. The Republican Party still seems to believe that doing what the Ministry of Truth wants is the key to success…and even though they ran the candidate that Minitru wanted them to run in the last two presidential elections, the Cocktail Party honchos still keep saying “we need to be more moderate!”. Whoever’s not repeating that is saying “Time to run another Bush!” for 2016. The Cocktail Partiers are truly hopeless. They really will never learn.
But, in this first week of 2013 it’s not all bad news. The Ministry of Truth is not as strong as it thinks. There are little cracks here and there that fascinate me. One story I enjoyed following in the last few weeks involves Matt Lauer and how he’s being driven insane by New Yorkers shouting profanities at him whenever he’s out and about in the city. This is because Lauer insisted that his co-host on the Today Show, Ann Curry, be fired back in the summer of 2012. NBC then forced Curry to publicly humiliate herself and announce her own firing live on the air; she cried…and the public permanently turned against Lauer. Now, people shout things at him in the way they used to scream “Murderer!” at O.J. Simpson whenever he’d try to eat in a restaurant. This has taken both Lauer and NBC itself by complete surprise. ”You’re a bad guy, Matt!” they holler. ”What you did to Ann was wrong!”. ”Boo!”.
This gives me such immense hope, I can’t even tell you.
Because it means that there really is a point when people do indeed think for themselves and turn against the Ministry of Truth and those that comprise it. Lauer thought he was invincible and master of his little fiefdom…but he went too far when he ousted Ann Curry. He’s paying the price now and his public image is never going to recover. Watch for him to be released from his contract at Today as soon as NBC finds a suitable replacement (in my opinion a dime store mannequin would do, but apparently there’s more to it than that).
I know New Year’s Resolutions are supposed to be all about losing weight or drinking less and all of that…but I think it would be more fun to make 2013 about doing little things to make the people around you turn on the Ministry of Truth. Matt Lauer proves the Ministry is vulnerable…and that something emotional can resonate with the public, if Americans get disgusted enough.
I know that YOU feel pretty disgusted by the nonstop lefty propaganda the Ministry churns out…but 90% of the public isn’t that tuned-in.
I think 2013 is the year that you and others like you turn the table on the Ministry…and cause your friends and neighbors to become permanently alienated from the talking heads on their tee-vee screens.
It’s going to be tough, but nothing great was ever achieved without adversity and corresponding perseverance.
And, honestly, on a very personal level it would just be a whole lot of fun to see Matt Lauer’s colleagues become as reviled as he is by the end of the year. Just imagine if everyone on MSNBC and CNN and the other wings of the Ministry was booed and jeered wherever they went.
That just warms the heart on a cold Tuesday morning, it really does.
What are people talking about in your part of the country?
What new things are you going to do in 2013 to help bring down the propaganda enterprise that is our national media?
Editor’s Note: I really want to thank all the people who emailed the last month with well-wishes while I was recuperating from my surgery. Today’s the first day I’ve had enough energy to be in front of a computer, but I’m feeling better and taking it slow to get back up to speed soon. This site takes a lot of personal effort to publish every day and it really does come down to whether or not I am physically able to sit here and write it. I am in a lot of pain and it’s hard to focus on the screen, but today’s better than yesterday and tomorrow will be even better still. February will be our site’s 5th anniversary and I think there’s a lot of interesting things to do and be involved with in the years ahead. While I was sick this last month, I was still able to work from bed on a few projects that mean a lot to me. One of them is actually the biggest thing I’ve ever done, which hopefully will be published in April or May. The funny thing is that it never would have happened if I hadn’t been sick and forced to stay in bed and not go anywhere or do anything else but read and research for a month. — K.D.
It got very little play in the press, but President Obama was recently snubbed again on the world stage when 15 Asian nations formed a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership without the United States. Obama had traveled to Phnom Penh in an effort to “sell a US-based Trans-Pacific Partnership excluding China.” He failed.
Add this to a growing list of major failures by Barack Obama on the International Stage. He failed to bring the Olympics to Chicago. He failed to produce progress on the Israel-Palestine front (it’s actually getting worse). He’s failed to create any sort of consensus on what to do about Syria. He has failed to inhibit Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon.
There is no doubt that U.S. influence is waning under Obama. Maybe that’s exactly what he wants.
Sharon Meroni’s One-Woman Crusade Against Voter Fraud in Illinois — and how you could do some of this in your own state
Sharon Meroni is a one-woman crusade against voter fraud in the state of Illinois…and she’s amazing to watch in person (or in YouTube videos) because she’s made it her personal mission to force compliance with Illinois’ election laws here in Chicago and in greater Cook County. It’s shocking how much voter fraud and illegal activity happens in our election system just because the general public never forces Boards of Election to actually comply with existing requirements in a state’s election-governing statutes.
Sharon is a mom from the Chicago suburbs who founded Defend the Vote, the very first organization of its kind meant to target voter fraud and prevent it in what’s arguably the most corrupt state in the union. Prior to starting up this group two years ago, Sharon was never involved in politics and actually was a corporate headhunter; Defend the Vote just sort of happened because Sharon saw the need for something like it and decided to stop waiting for someone else to make it happen. So began working every day to make herself an expert in Illinois election law…and then set out to audit the process in this state to see just how much shenanigans the various election entities in Illinois were up to.
I’ve been following her work in the lead up to (and aftermath of) the 2012 election and have actually started attending Boards of election meetings on my own, too, so I can see in person the sort of things Sharon describes on Defend the Vote’s own site. It’s shocking how some of these Board Members treat citizens in Illinois and how unserious they are about voter fraud.
There are actually three different election entities that impact life in Chicago; listed in order from most professional to absolutely ridiculous, they are:
* The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners (which covers the City of Chicago itself)
* The Illinois State Board of Elections (covering the whole state)
* The Cook County Clerk’s Office (which handles “suburban Cook County”, which is the part of Cook County that’s not Chicago itself)
It’s surprising, but the City of Chicago election officials are actually very nice to deal with…and remain professional during their board meetings. Sharon Meroni caught the City of Chicago illegally using the wrong documents to verify signatures on absentee ballots…and immediately after she brought this to their attention they swooped in and corrected what was happening…and even apparently took measures to correct the mistakes they made on about two hundred thousand ballots (proof that they made the correction is still forthcoming, but at the last Board Meeting the Executive Director Lance Gough told Sharon that he’d sent her a written report showing the changes and corrections they made in the matter). It actually seems like the people on the City’s Board want the elections to be free of fraud and incompetence…but they just don’t have anyone focused on identifying problems. When someone like Sharon takes the time to observe problems and report on them, the City Board seems to listen and doesn’t waste time addressing what’s wrong.
It’s a completely different story with the State Board of Elections in Illinois, with the Board in this case behaving like clowns and buffoons at their meetings. Large amounts of time are taken up at State Board meetings talking about matters unrelated to the actual elections: sugar cookies, employees who have been with the Board for many years and who wanted their resumes read aloud for some reason, various personal gripes the Board members have about life in general, what people are doing for fun that coming weekend, etc. When Sharon’s attended State Board meetings, the Board Members treat her derisively and say ridiculous things to her like, “You’re not a member of the Board!” or “We’ll only listen to you for 10 minutes and then you have to shut up!”. Meanwhile, there’s no limit to the amount of time that can be spent talking about sugar cookies. The State Board has no interest in hearing about security flaws or illegal activity in its election system…and in fact takes the attitude that “nothing’s wrong and we don’t want to hear about anything being wrong because we don’t want to fix anything!”. They remind me a lot of an after-school club in high school that puts on rallies and things, only they don’t do all that great a job doing it but they are seniors so they “rule the school” and no one can tell them otherwise. They are absolute clowns, every last one of them.
Then there’s the weird entity that is the Cook Count Clerk’s Office, which has been run by a petty tyrant named David Orr since 1992. He just keeps getting reelected, largely because Republicans don’t bother to run anyone against him and he’s a key part of the Chicago political machine so he’s never challenged in any sort of primary. He’s, thus, one of the Illinois aristocrats of the Left who keep things going “the Chicago way” perpetually. The Clerk’s Office is not required to hold any public meetings and there is no mechanism to force David Orr or anyone who works for him to answer questions from the public. All someone like Sharon Meroni can do is submit FOIA requests, which the Clerk’s Office is required to respond to eventually. But, since there is no Board and no public meetings, the Clerk’s Office operates almost entirely in shadows…and does all sorts of things that violate state election law. David Orr gives the impression he’s quite proud of this.
Once you start looking into this stuff, it’s amazing how much everyone involved with elections hates when the public starts paying attention to them. Even professional people like those on the City of Chicago Board of Election Commissioners don’t like public scrutiny. They aren’t used to it, they have never had to deal with this before, and they largely don’t know how to behave themselves when questioned by citizens.
There’s some kind of meeting or observable event for at least one of the election bodies covering Chicago every other day or so, it seems…and the moment one election is finished they all start gearing up for the next one. In Chicago’s case, there are primaries in February for April’s local elections. There’s also going to be a big mess caused by Jesse Jackson Jr’s meltdown and resignation from Congress. And then before any of us can believe it, we’ll have the 2014 elections and their own primaries just around the corner. It never ends.
And none of it will ever get any better unless regular people start taking an interest in all of this.
I think we’re really lucky to have someone like Sharon Meroni here in Chicago, making it her personal mission to become an expert in all things election-related. I know she’s having an impact just by how unhinged she makes the Illinois State Board and by how much they clearly dislike her presence at their meetings. If they were competent people with nothing to hide who were doing their jobs effectively, then they wouldn’t care a lick that Sharon is taking an interest in them. Just imagine how their counterparts would act in YOUR home state if you made elections and ballot-integrity your own mission where you live.
It’s a lot of reading, going to meetings, and hard work…but the payoff can be pretty big. Sharon Meroni caught the City in illegal activity and forced them to correct themselves. Who knows what she’ll catch next…or what YOU could help catch happening in your own part of the country.
[ Click above to embiggen: I took a photo of the orange chicken in the pan when it was done the last time I made this, and that's how it looks when the dish is finished. I think the yellow and orange peppers not only give the dish crunch but also add a visual element that brings home the "orange" in the chicken...and I like the whole pieces of orange segment that are scattered around the pan to give little bursts of orange flavor when eaten. You can see the seasoning on the chicken from when it was broiled, which is a peppery taste I like as an extra addition to the flavor profile. ]
Orange Chicken is my boyfriend Justin’s favorite dinner…but over time I evolved it from what’s typically found in Chinese restaurants so it’s also a little bit French “a l’orange” too. I also added a lot more color in the form of yellow and orange bell peppers and made it healthier than normal by not using anything fried (the way Chinese restaurants typically bread and then fry chicken for this dish). A lot of time I’ll have something in a restaurant and come home and try to make it for us in our apartment…and then I’ll change the things I didn’t like about the restaurant version and amp up the parts of it that Justin and I loved the most. It is a creative license that all cooks use…and it’s also a way to make things similar to what you like when you eat out but with whatever you happen to usually have in your kitchen.
When I make Orange Chicken, there’s enough for three meals for Justin and myself:
1. The first night we eat this over brown rice
2. The second day, we have an orange chicken sandwich (by just slicing open and toasting some baguette and then adding the orange chicken cold as a sandwich filling…you can heat it up too, if you want, but it’s great cold).
3. The last day I make us Orange Chicken lettuce cups by just using the leftovers as the filling of lettuce cups (literally, peeling off large leafs from a head of iceberg lettuce and then adding the warm orange chicken to it).
* Chicken breasts (when I make it for Justin and myself, I buy one of the big Value Packs of chicken that have between 6-7 breasts; since this lasts us for 3 days I think if you want to make it for just one night then use only 2 breasts…but it’s more cost effective to just make a 3-day batch).
* Oranges (you can use fresh or canned Mandarin oranges…or clementines if you’d rather use tangerines…the little “cuties” oranges they have in the fall are nice too).
* Bag of colored peppers (you should have this where you live…a bag in the produce aisle that has orange, yellow, and red peppers in it; use the orange and yellow ones for this dish and leave the red ones for something else another day or for snacks later).
* Orange marmalade (for the sauce)
* Your favorite kind of Asian-style sauce (I use whatever’s cheapest at the store: Panda Express Orange Chicken Sauce…Safeway Brand’s Sesame Orange Sauce…or any other Orange Sauce in the Asian foods aisle at your store).
* Brown rice (or the rice you like)
I think what’s fun about making Orange Chicken this way is that there’s a lot of flexibility to get into your own groove; you can really put your own personal spin on this, particularly when it comes to the sauce.
How to Make It:
Step One: I start the chicken off first, because that takes the longest. This is especially true if you are making the chicken in your Crock Pot (in which case, just do that the way you normally do and when the chicken is ready just pull it apart with your fork so it’s in bite-sized chunks). I only recently acquired a Crock Pot and have always made the chicken in the oven at 350 degrees for as long as it takes to cook it. Before it goes into the oven, I sprinkle it with Lemon Pepper seasoning from Grill Mates (but you can use any seasoning you like for the chicken…I just think the lemon pepper spice is nice later on with the orange flavors). I also add a little chicken broth to the broiling pan and then cover it for the first half of cooking.
Step Two: Make the brown rice. It takes forever, depending on the kind you get. The good thing is that the Orange Chicken can wait for the rice to be done if your timing is off. The final Orange Chicken dish actually tastes even better if it has time to rest and for the flavors to develop.
Step Three: Notice that I don’t cut the chicken up into little pieces before it’s cooked. That’s largely because I think doing that is gross and it always leads to a giant mess. So, I cook the chicken breasts first and when they are done I cut them up into little pieces for the Orange Chicken. When I took Chinese in school my teacher told us that the reason food in Chinese culture is cut into small pieces is so that knives do not need to be placed on the dinner table; this is supposedly because the war lords and feuding generals wouldn’t want anyone to have a knife handy at dinner time to make trouble…so all the necessary cutting was done in the kitchen. I like making food bite-size as much as possible because it means washing less silverware later. It also makes it so much easier to portion food and also set things aside for later. The chicken’s pretty much doing its own thing for a while while it cooks so I do the other stuff I need to do while this is going on.
Step Four: This is when I make the sauce for the chicken. In a large pan on the stove I plop four large, heaping tablespoons of the orange marmalade. This will add sweetness to the sauce and will also eventually coat random pieces of chicken with orange peel that’s in the marmalade. This saves me from having to zest oranges and try to get that orange peel myself. The marmalade does all that for me, which is awesome. Once the marmalade is in the pan, I then pour in some of the Panda Express orange sauce or the Safeway brand orange ginger sauce. I buy these when they are on sale and so there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll be using one or the other every time I make this. The price point for buying the sauce is when it’s $2.99 or so…which happens at least once a month for either of them. Sometimes, Dominick’s (which sells the Safeway store brands) has the sauces 2 for $3…and then I stock up. The reason I add the marmalade to the sauce is because I don’t think the orange sauces out there have enough orange flavor to them…but I also don’t like Orange Chicken without the pungent tang of the Chinese style sauces. Without that tang, then the dish tastes too much like chicken a l’orange (which isn’t a bad thing, per se, but it’s not Chinese style then). The sauce part of this dish is where you can really tailor things to your taste. Adding more marmalade makes the sauce sweeter and more orange-flavored…but adding more of the Panda Express or Safeway prepared sauce makes it more tangy and savory. It’s up to you what you like best.
Step Five: I turn the flame on very low for the sauce while I head over to chop up the orange and yellow peppers. Cut the tops off first (where the stem is) and then slice them all in half so you can scoop out the seeds. Then I cut them so they are little square shapes. I don’t like using long slender strips of peppers for Orange Chicken and think the little square pieces look nicer in the final dish. When you’ve got them all chopped up, add them to the sauce in the pan on the stove.
Step Six: Let the peppers simmer a little but turn the fire off if they start getting too much heat. You want them to be somewhat crunchy so they add a nice texture to the finished dish…and not cooked all the way through.
Step Seven: When the chicken is done, take it out of the oven and cut it up into little pieces. This is where if you’ve used a Crock Pot instead you can just pull the chicken apart with a fork into pieces and then you add it to the pan with the sauce and the peppers. I like to add the chicken into the pan a few pieces at a time and then stir everything around…then add more chicken…stir some more…etc. until all the chicken is added and everything is evenly coated with sauce. There’s no need to have too much sauce because the flavors will be very strong. I swear it took me like 30 years to learn this, but less sauce is actually better. Let the flavors of the chicken and the oranges and the peppers come through and not have everything drowned in sauce. If food is a superhero, then sauce is the cape…the cool accent that makes everything soar, but not an oppressive burqa that hides the food underneath from the world. Once everything has been stirred together, I turn the flame on high for a few minutes which makes the sauce stick to the chicken and for the whole thing to have a cohesive flavor. I stir everything around a few more times and then I let it all rest for 5 minutes.
Step Eight: While the Orange Chicken is resting, I peel roughly 2 oranges and divide them into segments…then I cut each segment into half if it’s a big orange. Justin is a very picky eater, so I have to make sure all the white tendons from inside the orange are removed and the segments are all clean. If you are using Mandarin oranges from a can, then just drain them of their juice and add them to the Orange Chicken that’s cooling on the stove as-is. If you are using small tangerines or little “cuties” oranges, then use about 4 of them. I like putting them on top of the Orange Chicken at the end so that they absorb the warmth from the food around it but they don’t cook and don’t burst (as they would if you added them when there was a flame under the pan). I like the orange pieces to be whole like this because they add little flavor explosions here and there when you’re eating the dish later. I always make sure people get an even helping of the orange pieces when I dish up the food into the bowls and I save a few orange pieces for garnish on the plate too. Presentation really is a big part of any meal. You can make the most inexpensive food taste “expensive” by just elevating your presentation a little and always making sure you have at least three different colors in every plating (in this case, I have yellow and orange from the peppers and then the white of the chicken…and I’m tempted to serve this dish on a plate with broccoli or green beans sometimes because I love having that brilliant green color on there too). Food really is art, and when you are cooking you are an in-house Picasso.
Step Nine: Before I plate anything up, I clean all the pans and dishes I used to make the meal and all the utensils that got dirty up to this point. This way there’s no mess later for me to deal with after we eat.
Step Ten: I dish up the brown rice (which I planned to be ready right now) and then on top of it I add the Orange Chicken: one bowl for Justin and one bowl for me. I then divide the remaining Orange Chicken that’s in the pan into two separate bowls: one for tomorrow’s cold sandwich version of this dish and the other for the day after’s lettuce cups. The only thing I’ll need to stretch this meal over three days instead of one is a French baguette and a head of lettuce. I’ve found that dividing the remainder after I’ve plated up dinner that first night is the best way to stretch what I’ve made over the next two days because I’m not relying on something being “leftover” since the plan was always to do that stretching from the beginning. This is also a way to portion control if you are watching your food intake so you don’t overeat.
Neither Justin nor I use chopsticks and we just eat this with a fork. I make a hot tea to drink with it, like I’d get at a Chinese restaurant, but Justin likes his Diet Orange pop. Another fun thing you could do is add a little orange juice to a glass of club soda and you could make a bubbly orange drink to complement the chicken dish. I don’t drink anymore, but if I did I’d serve this with Blue Moon or another such beer that has an orange-y zing to it. I think a wine that would be nice with this is a Riesling because of its sharp sweetness. Another good pairing is an Italian Prosecco, which some people think is just for the summer time but is super cheap in the fall and winter as a result of that misconception. A sparkling Prosecco with some orange chicken is a very nice combination for people who enjoy alcohol in moderation.
I really don’t like ordering Orange Chicken from Chinese restaurants since I started making my own version because they fry their chicken and bread it, which are two things I avoid by roasting the chicken in the oven (or cooking it in the Crock Pot). I also like the crunchiness that the bell peppers add to my version…which Chinese restaurants don’t do. Even though I do like Panda Express’s Orange Chicken and its sauce, I miss the vegetables that I put in mine and I also like the extra orange flavor that the marmalade brings. A few times I tried making this dish with carrots in addition to the peppers, but it was overkill in my opinion. The carrots also had a weird flavor with all the orange notes around them…so while I do add carrots to the Hawaiian chicken I make, I don’t put the carrots in my Orange Chicken. You can try them if you like, or if you can’t find any orange or yellow bell peppers…but I think you’ll find that the carrots are weird in this.
What I love most about making this Orange Chicken is how CHEAP it ends up being; there’s a Chinese restaurant in our neighborhood that we love called Ping Pong, but we can’t walk out of that place without spending at least $50 for the two of us for one meal. Here, I can make a better version of Orange Chicken that feeds us for three days for less than half that price.
Cost of Ingredients:
Here’s the list of ingredients and what they cost to make Orange Chicken in Chicago the last time I made it (November 2012):
* Chicken Value Pack: 7 breasts of chicken for $12
* Oranges: “Cuties” box of little oranges for $6 (and I used about $1 worth of the oranges by taking three of them for the dish) = $1
* Pack of Colorful Peppers: $5 (and I used 2/3 of them, so about $3.50 worth of yellow and orange peppers) = $3.50
* Marmalade: $3 (and it’s enough to make this dish three times, using 1/3 of the marmalade each time…so one use is about $1) = $1
* Panda Express Orange Chicken Sauce: $4 (and I used 1/3 of it, so each bottle is good for making this dish three times)= $1.50
* Brown Rice: $1 (I used the Uncle Ben’s quick-brown rice that comes in a big pack of around 5 bags…so I think this was about $1 each) = $1
So, that was a total of $20 and the Orange Chicken will be used for 3 meals, so that’s less than $7 for the first night’s meal. The next day’s sandwich bread costs $2, so that’s about $8 for that meal…and the lettuce head is $2 or so, so that’s another $8 for the third day. That’s $23 to feed two men for three days.
We’ll actually eat the cuties oranges and the leftover red peppers as snacks for the next two days, too, so nothing will go to waste. The sauce and the marmalade leftover will be used the next time I make orange chicken. Between Justin and I, we’ll finish off the French bread and the lettuce head the day we eat those meals…so yet again we reach my goal of bringing dinners in under $10 and only throwing away plastic bags and packaging into the garbage and never, ever wasting or tossing out good food.
If you decide to make this dish, please let me know how it turns out for you in comments below. If you have your own twist on Orange Chicken I’d love to hear that too.
For more affordable recipes, check out our Recipes page in the ADVENTURE section in our top toolbar.
I really love Hulu.com. Justin and I are actually “Hulu Plus” members, which allows us to see more shows than are available for free (and it’s just $8 or so a month, which is astronomically less than paying for cable and/or a DVR setup). It’s completely rewired the concept of tee-vee to me…since there are always shows on Hulu for me to watch if I’m in the kitchen cooking or just relaxing on breaks from work.
Hulu also does fun things like collect episodes of shows with holiday themes…like recent shows that featured Thanksgiving episodes.
They even have the classic “WKRP in Cincinnati” Thanksgiving show with the infamous “turkey drop”.
If you don’t care much for football or whatever else is on today and you need some background noise or other distraction today you might want to give Hulu’s Thanksgiving lineup a look. I think everything on this channel for the holiday is free and open to nonsubscribers.
I especially recommend the Thanksgiving episodes of: ”New Girl”, “Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23″, “The Middle”, “Raising Hope”, and “Happy Endings”.
That right there is over 3 hours’ of fun sitcoms with Thanksgiving plot lines that you probably have never watched before…and none of them are on NBC (which is great, because I’d no doubt lose my appetite for turkey if I watched anything broadcast by the Peacock).
Our Favorite Recipes Page — a little thank-you to all of you out there for your four and a half years of friendship
[ Click on the image above to find our Recipes page. It's located in the top toolbar under ADVENTURE! and has its own dedicated section now ]
I was really touched this week by someone who wrote in on another thread and wanted to have some of the recipes for things I write about here and there; that was such a sweet and personal thing to ask and it was special to me because making food for people I care about is a big deal in my world. For instance, I would never dream of making my boyfriend Justin anything that I wasn’t sure would be great…and I would not risk cooking anything that wasn’t special if I had friends coming over for the day or if I was going to a pot-luck or something. I take a lot of pride in making things from good ingredients that taste great and are nutrition — but have a little soul and flare to them. The happiest I ever am in the world is when someone I love eats something I’ve made and they look so happy…especially when whatever that thing I made was just happens to be a favorite of mine from growing up in Cleveland or a trick I picked up here or there in the many oddball and interesting jobs I’ve had in my event planning and hospitality days.
One of the biggest blessings I’m counting today is the fact that this eclectic little political website willed itself into existence more than four and a half years ago and has given me the gift of reaching so many great people out there coast to coast — and around the world — and that things that mean something special to me can reverberate into the lives of others…even if I’ll never know it. One of the things about being a gay man that used to break my heart was that since I won’t ever have kids I felt so sad that a lot of the great things I was taught by the truly remarkable people I’ve loved would tumble into the grave with me some day…and wouldn’t get passed on to anyone else.
That was tragic to me, because I’ve been so blessed to know some of the most incredible people of our time (in my opinion)…and I just love sharing with others the gifts they gave me, even if it’s just a fun recipe for stretching out leftovers or tips to bring that grocery bill way down. It’s a humbling and awesome realization that via HB I can actually rebroadcast every wonderful thing ever said or taught to me and send that out to you and whoever else will read these essays and articles in the future…so that, through this effort, the people I love and the good in their hearts will never die…but will echo on in some form forever.
So, a gay guy from Cleveland ended up in Chicago with the ability to collect and transmit the very best of everyone he encountered in a lifetime to other good people who can carry those wonderful things on to others. I have no idea how any of this managed to happen, or why I was lucky enough to end up with that gift…but I am very thankful for it.
This will be a work in progress — and it will take a while to put a lot of these things into articles — but I started a page here on HB for the Recipes that people have asked for and will do my very best to make them as fool-proof and easy to use as possible as I write them up. I’m thinking this will be something I have more time to get to on the weekends…which is very natural, actually, since I like to cook more complicated or special things on Saturday or Sunday when there’s usually no place I need to be and I can just focus on going to the store or being in the kitchen.
I’m really heartened by the opportunity to tell you about some of the wonderful cooks I grew up knowing back in Cleveland…particularly my grandmothers, who are both gone now, but whose examples still continue to guide me today. Justin gets to hear these stories every day and I’m sure he’ll be happy to know that others will have the chance to enjoy them instead. I like knowing that this Recipes page is a chance for Erma and Emma to live on and never be forgotten and that a stranger who never met either of them might think of them now and again if that person makes one of their favorite dishes on occasion.
There’s a powerful kind of emotional magic in that for me…and in food if it’s always made with love and good intentions. I think we’re in for a very trying and exhausting four years that will be filled with austerity and privation…so maybe it’s perfect timing for the influence of Erma and Emma and the other practical and penny-pinching cooks I’ve known to reach a new audience who might be in real need of ideas to stretch household budgets in ways their families won’t even notice.
That was always a big thing growing up in Cleveland…to always make do with what we had, but to do it without complaint…though with enough flare and ingenuity that nobody noticed if you really just scraped together a bunch of leftovers and repurposed it into something new and interesting. If necessity is the mother of invention, then the ruined city of Cleveland was the maternity ward where such necessity birthed all sorts of inventiveness. I really believe that together we can all get through no matter what nightmares will come in the years ahead just by falling back on the best things we were taught growing up by people who themselves survived similar hardships.
I don’t necessarily like that this is the lot we’ve drawn at a time in history when the Left is triumphant and determined to decimate the country…but I am grateful today that I’m alive and in good enough health to do what I can to aid the continued Resistance. I’m glad we’re friends like that too, because I am counting on your own role in the Resistance to see us through. And, yes, I believe we cannot help but succeed in the end if we just continue to persevere and follow the good in our hearts…no matter if the battle ends up being a much bigger war than we ever dreamed it would be.
We will survive the Depression together.
We will endure the Obama Regime as great friends.
We will overcome the adversity all around us as allies.
We will Resist and ultimately Respond when the tide indeed turns.
I really hope you take a moment today to appreciate how remarkable it is that you are alive right now, at your particular age, when all of this is happening. I’m 35 and am so grateful that when the stuffing hit the fan — like it’s done for this country currently — I wasn’t 15 or 85 or even 45. I feel like I am the perfect age, for myself, to be in the thick of all this. I am grateful for being able to enjoy a safe and fun childhood with Reagan in the White House…and to have prosperous and relatively carefree teenaged years with the Clintons in Washington. I’m actually BEYOND grateful that in my 20s when Islam attacked us that George W. Bush was at the helm and truly rose to the occasion to hold this country together in the wake of such an evil assault. I feel blessed and lucky that things didn’t fall apart until I was in my 30s…when I’d had enough fun…and was able to get serious and make the sacrifices needed to get involved politically.
I’ve very thankful I’m gay, too, to be perfectly honest because I feel that allows me a little more freedom than a straight guy would have who has a family to worry about. Because of my political activism, I’m making 1/5 of what I did back before I started up this site and began speaking out against the Left and the Democrat Party…but nothing the Left’s ever thrown at me in terms of punishment or Alinsky assaults has ever been able to destroy me because all of the basic survival skills I learned growing up in the Thunderdome that is Cleveland have carried me through, no matter how many sacrifices those reprisals forced me to make. It’s proven to be remarkable hard to break the will of someone whose default programming was written by the privations of Cleveland in the 1980s. I am more grateful to my hometown and all it taught me than you could ever know as a result.
I think the success in anything for life rests in your personal planning…whether that is how to ultimately defeat the Left and its media propaganda machine or if it’s how to run your household in back-breaking times. The best antidote to frost-fingered fear is a warm hard and a mind of action. If you are methodical in your planning and strong in your convictions then fear of tomorrow’s unknown just can’t take hold of you. If you believe in America and what’s made this country so special for centuries then you also can’t entertain a notion that Americans will truly allow all that to fall to the wayside just because the tee-vee has told them to.
Fear has no place in this dojo.
And giving up is never an option.
So we soldier on, together. Just as we’ll survive this Obama Depression together. We will scrape together whatever we can, as best we can…and we will do that until the Left is driven from power. I don’t know why God sees fit to force Americans to endure privations like this in cycles as teachable lessons…but it looks like we’ve all been picked as students in this together here in 2012.
I’m grateful for that, because there’s no one I’d rather endure this with than you. Because we’re friends like that…and also because I know that you will also start sharing all the tricks and tips you’ve accumulated on your own to help your friends and neighbors survive the Obama Depression. I hope our little HB Recipes page can bring some joy or needed insight to anyone who’d benefit from it…and I hope it inspires others out there to investigate resources of their own to make the next four years just a little more bearable.
CLICK HERE -- to check out the Recipes page (a work in progress).
Please chime in below in comments with what you think.
There’s no real “Thanksgiving music”, per se…but for me “Battle Hymn of the Republic” has always been the closest thing to a Thanksgiving “theme song” for this uniquely American holiday.
Words are my life…and I’m more particular about them than most people. I cringe when someone calls today “Turkey Day” because that’s like calling Christmas “Santa’s Day” and ignoring the reason for the season. Yes, Thanksgiving has a lot of great foods (and I know this because I worked hard making a bunch of those for today) and there’s indeed a fun element to the day, with a little silliness and more than its fair share of gluttony. Somewhere in Massachusetts today, I imagine Senator-Elect Elizabeth Warren dressing up in a conflicting mess of pilgrim and Indian gear, trying to decide who she’s going to be today based on her “family history”…while across the country far too many people are going to go on about food more than they should and forget completely the Civil War origins of what became Thanksgiving Day.
We’re currently in an economic Depression that our propaganda-based media won’t acknowledge for political reasons. We have a Regime in Washington ambivalent (at best) to the suffering of the American people. The political Left is at a horrifying zenith of power and is poised to do all sorts of harm to the country for the next two years. These are very trying times and our future is shockingly uncertain.
But, Americans back in 1865 felt much the same way, I’m sure. So, they began reserving a day to focus intently on the good in their lives and all the many blessings they could count.
There were so many.
There still are.
Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing today, please know how thankful I am that you are here in this very trying time for our country. You are reading these words right now…so you actually care enough about America to be on the net reading political sites on a day that others have turned into nothing more than a gluttonous pigfest. But, YOU are different and special and continue to seek news sources outside the Ministry of Truth and propaganda media. That’s amazing. It gives me great hope for our shared future. I am so thankful we’re friends like that.
I really ask you to keep love in your heart and politics off the table today, though. Focus on your friends and family today, and enjoy your time with them.
If your family’s get-togethers involve any yelling or screaming or conflict, how about making today the day that YOU step forward as the referee and peacemaker? I think this year’s the one where you inherit that role and become the arbiter of family fun and fellowship for the foreseeable future. The job sucks — let’s be real about that — but someone has to do it. There are a great many jobs in life that suck…but necessity demands them. And there always needs to be a grown up in the room who’ll keep the peace and allow cooler heads to prevail. It’s hard being that person…but give that mantle a try today because I know it’s going to fit you.
If that’s not needed wherever you are going — or someone else still serves that duty — then please just focus for a while today on all the things you are thankful for. Call up some friends or loved ones you’ve lost touch with and reconnect. Take a moment and send a quick text or email to people you love and just say “I appreciate you and am thankful for our friendship today”. You will never know how many lives you touch.
If you know any elderly people or those who’ve been sick in your neighborhood…perhaps you could invite them over to your family’s meal? Or maybe pop over later with a plate for them in case they spent today alone? We are all very much in this together…just as we were back in the dark days when Thanksgiving Day first began as a national holiday.
Enjoy yourself in all you do today…but please make sure that whatever you’re doing includes the spirit of Thankfulness and that the reason for the season’s not lost amidst all the food and the “Turkey Day” silliness that pop culture foists on what’s actually a very spiritual and contemplative time of year.
There will no doubt be people at your table today who will want to be silly, because they’ve been taught on the tee-vee that’s how to behave today.
You can set them right, in a classy and charming way.
Maybe just by playing them a little “Battle Hymn of the Republic” on your iPhone…and then telling them a little bit about why today became an important national holiday. There’s a lot more to the story than just dressing up as pilgrims and Indians and eating a lot. The Ministry of Truth doesn’t want people to know about any of that…because there’s a concerted effort to undermine all American holidays with sustained silliness…but the perfect antidote to that is YOU.
God Bless you and thank you for your continued friendship today and every day…and thank you for the love I know you have in your heart for this remarkable country that shall persevere and thrive no matter what’s thrown at it.
Above all, that’s the thing I’m most thankful for today and every day.
It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I want to thank all of you HillBuzzers for supporting this site with your comments, your love, and your desire to save this country. I thank God every day that I have been blessed with friends like you.
We can quibble about politics, but we all should give thanks for living in the greatest, and free-est country on earth. We are damn lucky, and if you are one of those eeyore sad sacks who don’t understand how blessed you are, then you can choose to sit in a chair and pout. Boo hoo.
I choose to give thanks, and … DANCE!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!