Chili today, hot tamale

First of all, after Kevin Millar made a good defensive play in the bottom of the first inning of the Sox-Angels game, ESPN color commentator Rick Sutcliffe asked the director for a close-up of Kevin Millar’s face to make sure it wasn’t Doug Mientkewicz in a Kevin Millar uniform. Someone’s been reading!

Second, and more important, I commiserated with the Rocketship by making chili con carne to eat during the game, and this is the recipe I used.

2 pounds lean ground beef (I guess any ground meat would be okay)
2 medium onions
2 bell peppers (I used one green and one red)
2 garlic cloves
1 28-ounce can ready-cut (“Recipe Ready”) tomatoes (because cutting up the onions, peppers, and garlic is plenty without having to cut up tomatoes, too)
1 15-ounce can kidney beans
1 15-ounce can pinto beans
2 cups water
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Dash of salt
Shredded cheese

Chop the onions and bell peppers into small pieces. Chop the garlic into very, very small pieces.

Brown the meat and drain.

In a big pot, stir together everything but the beans and cheese. Cook, covered, over low-to-medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Drain the beans and stir them into the chili. Continue cooking, still covered, for another 30 minutes.

Serve in bowls and put shredded cheese on top. As listed above, the recipe makes about 8 servings of chili, which is good in my case because although it’s good right after it’s made, it’s even better as a leftover. It should be fairly easy to halve, although you’ll probably have to make a choice between kidney beans and pinto beans instead of having both. (Why am I not having people over to my place? Fewer baseball fans among my southern California friends, worse start times in terms of people being able to drop by for the game after work, and the fact that my bathroom is a mess because the apartment complex maintenance staff is working on the ceiling.)

Here’s what it looks like before the cheese is put on top (and, no, you don’t use the whole bag on one bowl unless you like cheese more than you like chili)…

Goes great with $7.00 beer, and Sarah Michelle Gellar…

And it tastes even better when Johnny Damon is on TV…

Incidentally, the advantage to having a local team in the playoffs while you’re trying to TiVo their game, airing on ESPN, is that the coverage is duplicated on a local channel. In this case, the game bounced from ESPN2 to ESPN once the Twins-Yankees game finally ended, but L.A.’s UPN 13 carried it straight through, with a minimum of scrolling messages informing all 10 or 11 potential viewers of the UPN show “Kevin Hill” that tonight’s episode would be airing on Saturday.

Original comments…

Levi: One thing you might try in the future, Jim: Fritos. I think the only reason they’re on the earth is to be put in chili just before you put in the cheese.

We didn’t see much baseball last night, just a bit in a hotel bar while waiting for Stacey’s aunt and uncle to show up from the airport. So we saw the Yankees leeding 5-3 in the 8th, Rivera coming in. “Oh, we don’t need to watch–we can go sit in the lobby. We saw Rivera blow a lead in 2001, so we won’t see that again for another few years.”

Checking in a few minutes later, finding it 5-5, we decided to leave a note at the desk telling Auntie where to find us.

But then, at dinner, it all went bad. Stacey and I were occasionally our heads in the bar–where the bartendress was a Minneapolis transplant and where there was also one Yankee fan who, when I said to the bartendress, “Everybody hates the Yankees!”, said, “Not everybody!”. Stacey saw that the Twins had gone ahead in the 12th. Next thing I knew, I saw from across the restaurant a crowd of bouncing Yankees. And they didn’t look like they were bouncing the bounce of despair.

Oh, well. There’s always game 3.

Jim: “Bartendress”?

By the way, Rogue Dead Guy Ale was a $7.00 beer in Pittsburgh, and it’s still a $7.00 beer in L.A….but in this case, it’s $7.00 for a 6-pack at BevMo in Van Nuys. Actually, $6.99 plus “CRV” (deposit).

Dan: SMG, still hot? I lost track a few years back.

Jim: She’s no Alyson Hannigan, that’s for sure (although Alyson is admittedly more “intensely cute” than “hot”).

Levi: I’m so with Jim on the Alyson Hannigan thing, although I do tend to think SMG is hotter than, say, most blondes. But that’s mainly because she kills vampires, who are not hot.

It’s chili time!

Those of you who haven’t been living here recently–or ever–should know that for the last three baseball seasons, Stacey and I have done our best to turn October at The Rocketship into a baseball open house. I find that the best way to end the baseball season is surrounded by friends and big simmering pots of vegetarian chili, some cornbread, some cider, and some marveling at the color of Tim McCarver’s hair dye.

Though most of the people around these parts have trouble working up any interest in American League baseball, we’re kicking things off tonight with the Yankees and the Twins, and who can’t work up enthusiasm for seeing Johan Santana strike out Yanks? We’ll have even more trouble if any Astros/Braves games sneak into prime time: I know it’s a fundamental rule of life that one roots against the Braves, but I find rooting for Houston to be almost as difficult. I’ve been likening it to an election where you have a corrupt, unpalatable Democrat against a corrupt, unpalatable Republican. In that case, I’ll always go for the guy with the (D) by his name. In this case, that’s Houston.

So you’re all welcome to come out. All of you I know, that is. If you’re a stranger reading this blog from, say, jail, you’re not necessarily invited. We’ll have to discuss it. Here’s a schedule for the rest of the week.

First, however, we have to root the Cardinals past the Dodgers today at noon. I blame Fox for the fact that I have to listen to this game at work rather than watch it at home. I suppose if I were in LA I could watch it over brunch.

I’m still really busy at work–hence the staying here today instead of going home–but some quick picks:

Twins over Yanks
Red Sox over Angels
Red Sox over Twins

Cards over LA
Braves over Astros
Cads over Braves

Cards over Red Sox

You knew that was where I was headed, didn’t you? And what are your picks?

Original comments…

Dan: My gut:

Yanks over Twins // Sox over Angels
Sox over Yankees

Cards over LA // Braves over Astros
Braves over Cards

Braves over Sox.

Trust me, I hate that scenario. Just the gut feeling about the Braves this year.

Jim: Darn it, I was distracted by the lack of Hostess Baseballs at the supermarket yesterday, and forgot that I was going to get chili ingredients in order to have my own Rocketship-esque playoff viewing here in L.A. (Only “Rocketship-esque” because I prefer chili of the con carne variety.) But I wasn’t planning to watch a game tonight, so I can wait until tomorrow night, for the Red Sox-Angels game at 7:00 PDT. I think a few Bostonians are going to be very tired Thursday morning!

Levi: Time for baseball!

Go, Cardinals!

Luke: > What are your picks?

I like rice and pasta for the division series, then chili and Moose Tracks for the LCS’s. I’m leaning toward pizza and bratwurst for the World Series.

Oh, baseball? ABY: Anyone but Yankees. I’ll root for the Cards in the N.L., and then the Red Sox and Twins in the A.L., but will have to defer to the Sox when they meet, as I always will when a grass team plays a non-grass one.

Jason: What I’d like to see:

Twins over Yankees
Angels over Red Sox
Twins over Angels

Dodgers over Cardinals
Astros over Braves
Dodgers over Astros

Twins over Dodgers

What I’ll probably see:

Yankees over Twins
Red Sox over Angels
Yankees over Red Sox

Cardinals over Dodgers
Braves over Astros
Braves over Cardinals

Yankees over Braves in six in the 3rd least-viewed World Series in history (narrowly better than Yankees-Mets in 2000 and the other 20 times Yankees-Braves have faced off)

stacey: i’d just like to note that, although the chili is vegetarian, one of the optional condiments is bacon. lots of bacon.

maura: i have a weird feeling about an astros-sox world series. (you know fox would eat that up with a spoon, too — hell, they’d probably send their “news”casters down for live, snicker-filled remotes from halliburton park.)

Levi: Yeah, Luke: should I be eating pasta today instead of leftover chili? Am I setting myself up for a 9:47 marathon?

Oh, and shame on you, Dan. Did William T. Sherman look at Atlanta and think, “I wish I could burn this shithole to the ground, but I think it won’t happen?”

The Astros, though worthy of hate, are the William T. Shermans of the Division Series.

Jim: Bacon on chili?!

Luke, hanger-on: You’re probably OK today, but by Thursday or Friday you should consider a moratorium on all, let’s say, gastronomically complicated food. Just as you don’t see large plumes of smelly exhaust shat out by Indy 500 race cars, so too do you want to avoid combustion issues of your own come Sunday.

Jason: Have you ever tried adding a little chocolate to your chili? It’s not bad.

Matt B.: How Dare you compare the Atlanta Braves to “a corrupt, unpalatable Republican” – The Atlanta baseball franchise has been steadfast in its support of stem cell research!

Levi: We usuall put in about a quarter-cup of cocoa powder, which does give the chili a little hint of some dark, rich taste. If Stacey will allow, I’ll post the Rocketship Baseball Chili recipe in coming weeks so you can all play along at home!

Dan: I’m not saying I WANT the Braves to win — trust me, if it was up to me, I’d want the Mets to play the NY Jets in the World Series, that way I’ll be happy regardless who wins. It was just a lousy gut feeling. Especially lousy considering how shitty they played yesterday.

Jason: Re: Chili or pasta?

Why not have both? Pour the leftover chili on to your spaghetti or linguine or rotini or what have you for a real taste treat!

The end of the baseball season hits home

Today, store the shelf space at my local Ralphs that had been set aside for Hostess Baseballs since March was now filled with some Halloween snack cake instead: chocolate cupcakes covered with orange frosting, called something like Hostess Booballs (not the real name, but it should be).

Related to the trip, but not baseball-related

I’ve managed to answer the question, “Can there possibly be anything at a restaurant more surprisingly highly priced than the $7.00 beers at the Red Star Tavern in Pittsburgh?” And that answer is yes.

I was with a group at a mid-priced Mexican restaurant last night, and during the cocktails-and-chips portion of the evening, someone made the executive decision to order guacamole as a supplement to the salsa. The guacamole order was a bowl of the usual size one gets at a Mexican restaurant; it was fresh and tasty, but since this is California, it’s very easy to find fresh and tasty guacamole.

The cost of the bowl of guacamole turned out to be $8.25.

It turned out to be listed on the menu with a price of “as quoted,” as if it’s, you know, lobster fresh off a plane from Maine. They didn’t quote the price to us when we ordered it, only when it showed up on the bill.

(I like the fact that the menu lists what year they started serving every dish, because it’s fascinating to see when “new” Mexican foods were introduced — quesadillas 1969, fajitas 1984, vegetarian enchiladas 1992. But especially when that information is on the web site version of the menu, too, it’s not $8.25 worth of guacamole fascinating!)

Original comments…

Levi: The “as quoted” reminds me of the restaurant–was it one of the places where we looked at a menu in Pittsburgh, Jim?–in the midwest that boasted “The freshest fish in the nation!”

I suppose if it were some bottom-feeding river fish, then maybe.

thatbob: Perhaps they meant The Iroquois Nation. Are you certain you weren’t on tribal land?

More tales of mass-produced baked goods

There were no Hostess Baseballs at Ralphs today. There were plenty of Hostess Zingers, though, which rhymes with a baseball term (“dinger”), and which used to be a product of the Dolly Madison company and therefore used to be advertised by the “Peanuts” characters! See how this all fits together?

Now, does this mean I’m supposed to fill my luggage with Zingers, or does it mean I’m supposed to show up with empty luggage if I can’t get Baseballs?

Original comments…

Levi: Surely you can make baseball-shaped snack cakes at home?

And you wouldn’t think of leaving home for a long trip without some Hostess Fruit Pies, would you? Especially since we’ve already discovered that Doctor Octopus, for one, is aware of our itinerary?

Come on, Jim. You’re supposed to be the good planner in this crew.

Steve: While I’m sure this will fall on deaf ears over at BRPA, maybe it’s time you guys should consider corporate sponsorship. Perhaps you can get Interstate Brands to donate a suitcase full of baseballs for your trip.

Interstate Brands Corp.
Consumer Affairs
12 E. Armour Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64111.

The phone number is (816) 502-4010.

Jim: What do fruit pies have to do with Dr. Octopus…do we keep throwing them at him until he has one in each tentacle, thus making him unable to grab us and do harm to us?

Trying to get corporate sponsorship sounds like a job for Levi.

Levi: “What do fruit pies have to do with Dr. Octopus?”

While you were reading about trains, Jim, the rest of us were rotting our minds with comic books. Rotting minds and rotting teeth go together, so Hostess advertised their fruit pies extensively in superhero comics.

The ads were like this.

Jim: See, I only read Archie comic books, which didn’t rot your mind; they taught valuable life lessons such as the fact that brunettes are more desirable than blondes. Also, one character had an eating disorder (although the only consequence of it seemed to be the endless requests by Pop for him to pay his tab at the Chocklit Shoppe), so it’s no wonder Hostess didn’t advertise their products there.

Levi: When I was young, I had an Archie comic put out by Spire, a religious publisher. In it, some of Archie’s buddies drink and drive and die, and Archie and friends (including, if I remember right, a ringer who was just in that issue (much like the dying friends) so he could spout some biblical verse.

Freaked me out and put me off Archie until adulthood. Now I can enjoy him, but when I was kid, I stayed away.

Jim: I also had a couple of the Spire Archie comics, mistakenly(?) purchased by my mother at some point. I don’t remember the specific plot lines, but apparently, all the Spire Archies were about someone dying in a car accident, but not having to worry, because they were saved.

As a kid, I mostly bought the Archie digests, not the actual comic books, because that’s what they had at Publix…sometimes in the checkout racks next to TV Guide and the Globe Mini Mags, and sometimes in the magazines/greeting cards section at the right front corner of the store. (I believe the link is to a picture of the actual Publix store I’m talking about…if not, it’s absolutely identical, although the cars in the parking lot were slightly newer in my Archie digest-buying days.)

Jason: I had one of those religious Archie comics, as well. No car accidents, but instead the gang went to Africa to do missionary work. I think they ended up building a well for a poor village.

When I read it, I wondered why Archie got so preachy all of the sudden. Thanks for clearing it up, fellas!

A thought on ballpark food

On Tuesday at Tropicana Field, I had a grouper sandwich; on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, I had a Dodger Dog (included with the “family pack” ticket package); on Sunday at Petco Park, I had fish tacos. I think on the trip I’m going to try some local specialty at most of the ballparks, because even though my digestive system is used to me putting a lot of items consisting of meat and meat by-products down the hatch, I’m not sure it can handle a hot dog a day for 10 days. I’m also not sure what Levi’s going to eat on the trip, other than Tim Horton’s doughnuts while we’re in Canada, if he’s still practicing vegetarianism.

Original comments…

Levi: “Practicing”? I think I’ve got this vegetarian thing down by now.

And surely there will be enough to eat. Ballpark pizza is one of the worst foods in the world, but in St. Louis, for example, they’ve got a stand that sells veggie burgers and another that sells reasonably good burritos.

maura: i guess that seals the identity of the person who’s going to try the schmitter at citizens bank park, then….

Jon Solomon: There are GREAT veggie dogs to be had in Toronto at SkyDome. They’ve got a whole vegetarian stand down on the first level, in fact.

Steve: My long list of reasons why baseball should be contracted just got longer. Veggie dogs? inside domes? in Canada?!? Great American pastime indeed. There’s plenty of things vegetarians can eat at the ballpark–french fries, nachos, pretzels, peanuts, pizza, sunflower seeds, beer, big league chew, ice cream (if you aren’t vegan) lemon freeze (if you are vegan) free diced onions at wrigley….

Jim: A cheese steak on a Kaiser roll with fried salami, fried onions, tomato, and secret sauce?! There is nothing about that I don’t like, except that if it’s $5.25 at the actual McNally’s, I shudder to think how much they’re charging at Citizens Bank Park.

Levi: Let’s all give a moment of appreciation to Jim Bouton for inventing Big League Chew. That’s almost as great an achievement as writing Ball Four.

thatbob: My only quibble: I wish it had been called Big League Chaw. (God, it sucks to be me. I really can’t enjoy *anything*.)

thatbob: Re: veggie dogs inside domes in Canada. You know what Yogi Berra would say to that: “Only in America.”

Jason: You could always eat before the game…if you’re a COMMUNIST!

sarah: jon’s post brought back some very scary and sad memories of the near-deserted vegetarian food stand at the expos game we went to in montreal. the echo of fans banging empty seats followed me into the dark back alleys of the food court. the whole adventure took me close to an hour, since i believe they had to actually form the tofu into veggie-dog shapes by hand. plus, a mishap involving a foul ball spilled our whole dinner onto my shirt anyway.

good times. good times.

Don’t go to the supermarket hungry

This box of delight was on sale at Ralphs today. (Marked at $3.79, rang up at $2.50.) The official Hostess site doesn’t seem to acknowledge its existence, so I had to take my own picture. I think it should be the Official Snack Cake of this trip.

You know, if it turns out that real baseballs have a vanilla cream center these days, it might explain a lot of things.

Original comments…

Jason: There’s a Hostess thrift store not too far away in Burbank. (Well, it’s probably too far away for the Chicago folks.) I should see if I can find some Baseballs there. Last time I went, I brought home a box of Chocodiles.

Levi: Wow, Hug. I hadn’t thought about Chocodiles in years.

Jim, this is like when Maggie found a stash of John Kruk folders at a dollar store: Your duty is to buy all the boxes of these that you can, then pack them in your luggage.

Steve: Levi, in case you haven’t noticed the girth of your fellow midwesterners, its not like these are hard to find.

I vote that Jim packs nothing but Hostess in his luggage and if he wants a change of clothes must go to the local thrift store for an outfit featuring the logo of home team in the town you are currently visiting. And thanks for mentioning John Kruk.

Jim: Official TSA policy: “Avoid packing food and drink items in checked baggage.” Sorry.

thatbob: Nonsense, Jim. You can (1) “avoid” packing the Hostess Baseballs in your checked luggage all day – all weekend, even! – and then, at the last minute, pack them anyway. (This is what I would do). Or you can (2) pack the maximum limit of carry-on with Hostess Baseballs, and not check any luggage. (This is what you should do.)

No excuses! No regrets!

Jason: Or, you could ship a case or 2 to Levi, and then pick them up from him and carry them in your rental car.

Steve: I think we are distilling this down to its essential meaning…

Jim is not allowed to pack any luggage for this trip unless it is filled with hostess baseballs and his diet for the entire trip must consist entirely of hostess baseballs. Now that would be a cool documentary!!

Levi: And _I’ve_ distilled Steve’s post to its essence: Steve loves to see people barf out car windows.

Better than goose eggs

Cardinals farmhand Brad Thompson of the Tennesse Smokies threw six shutout innings on Friday night, running his string of scoreless innings to 52, two short of the minor-league record.

The local Krispy Kreme franchise in Sevierville has promised Thompson free donuts for life if he breaks the record.

That’s got to be better than whatever major-league-consecutive-shutout-innnings-record-holder Orel Hershiser got for announcing his intention to attend a theme park in the aftermath of the Dodgers’ World Series victory in 1988.

Original comments…

Levi: And I forgot to mention the next-best thing about this story: the holder of the record is Urban Shocker, regular denizen of the upper-reaches of lists of the best baseball names.

Steve: I hope he gets the record because as far as I’m concerned baseball can’t have enough fat pitchers.

thatbob: Say, isn’t it about time you guys got represented at, which cross-references area bloggers by CTA and Metra stop?

Jason: The local Krispy Kreme doughnut flavor of the week (or month, I forget which) is Strawberry Shortcake. I highly recommend purchasing a few if available in your area.

Jason: I also used to have a Smokies hat back when they were the Knoxville Smokies. I even purchased it in Evanston at some corner sports apparel shop that might not even be around anymore.