When Scott and I bought the House On a Hill, the Old Man give us a house flag as a housewarming gift when we were moving out. It was sweet and really touched me, and it also saved me having to buy a flag. Scott and I always planned to have a flag to fly on flag display days and adding the flag bracket near the front door was one of the first things we did when we got the keys. Neither of us is given to displays of jingoism and I think I can speak for both of us when I say we find it distasteful, but we do feel a measure of patriotic pride in the principles of this country and a patriotic hope for its potential. As part of that, we like to fly a flag other than our freak flag now and then.
Last night before bed, I reminded Scott to put the flag up outside the house today for Veterans Day. As he left for work this morning, that’s what he did: raised an American flag in the light of the sun. Later today, as the sun begins to set, I’ll either turn on the outside light to illuminate the flag or I’ll bring it inside. If I decide to illuminate it, later tonight when we turn the light off, the flag will come inside. Why? Because that’s proper flag etiquette.
People may not realize it, but there’s a code that governs the proper display of the flag of the United States of America. This is federal law, and while there’s no actual penalty for improper use or display of the flag, failure to follow the flag code shows a lack of respect. This is ironic because so many of the rah rah USA USA USA crowd are disrespecting the flag by not following the flag code. Every day I see my neighbors’ flags flown day and night through all kinds of weather, never lit up in the dark, and allowed to turn to tatters. You see this everywhere: people thinking they’re showing their great patriotism when in fact they’re disrespecting the flag.
Flags should technically only be flown from sunrise to sunset, though you can do it at night if the flag is lit. If it’s flown in bad weather, it should be an all-weather flag that won’t be abused by the elements.
Last week, I saw a DIY project that involved cutting up a flag – a real flag, not flag-printed fabric – and using it to upholster a footstool. A footstool! So after cutting it up, that flag was used to prop up someone’s feet. The DIYer included a tutorial for how to do the project, and her final step read: 8. USA USA USA!!!!!
I find that appalling. Unless you’re willfully trying to show disrespect, you never cut up or put your feet on a US flag. In fact, it shouldn’t be used for decorative furnishings at all. Not as curtains, not as a bedspread, etc.
If you’re going to show your patriotism through the use of an American flag, please do yourself and all of us a favor and read the flag code. Learn the proper, and improper, way to display a flag and show it respect.
My childhood was full of many different types of food, for which I feel very fortunate. My family is Irish on one side and Italian on the other and we lived in blue-collar towns full of Irish and Italians and Polish and Germans. Everybody learned to make everyone else’s food, so my southern grandmother with the Irish husband could make corned beef, golumpki, and Spam salad* all in the same week. As a young woman, my mother had many Latino friends, so I grew up eating Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Mexican food. Two of the meals she had in regular rotation were chicken paprikash and picadillo. When I was 10 or 11 we moved in with my step-father and he introduced me to the wonderful world of Jewish food.
So I did have some fairly broad horizons when it came to food, but it was still the 70′s, which means as broad as my horizons were there were also an awful lot of gaps. That means it took only a bit of thought to come up with this week’s Ten On Tuesday.
*Yes, Spam salad. It’s a monstrosity of a “salad” made with cubes of Spam and cheddar cheese, chickpeas, canned corn, and mayonnaise. It’s a true horror, but I still love it and writing about it makes me want to make some.
October feels long this year, and that’s a good thing. Time is so often flying past. This feeling of “it’s still October?” is a welcome one.
A couple of weeks ago I got the idea that I wanted to make beer-battered apples. I’ve never beer-battered anything before so I had no idea how easy it is. A little research showed this isn’t even an original idea, but I didn’t know that when I thought of it, so I’m claiming it as original anyway.
Once I understood how simple beer batter is I decided to make this an experiment. I’ll use four pumpkin ales to make four batches of apple fritters and I’ll prepare the apples for the batter a different way each time. The basic batter recipe I’m using is one-and-a-half cups of flour to one 12-ounce bottle of beer. Preparation is as easy as dumping the flour into a bowl, adding the beer, and whisking them together. Done.
For batch one, I used River Horse Hipp-O-Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale. River Horse is a NJ brewery and I’m not sure what their availability is out-of-state, but it’s worth trying a bottle if you happen to see it and are a fan of pumpkin beer. With its heavy spice notes and creamy flavor, it was a really good choice for this experiment. As is often the case with pumpkin beer, the aroma of pumpkin is much stronger than the actual taste of pumpkin. The spice is what really comes through in the flavor.
I prepared the apples by cutting them into match sticks and tossing them with sugar before adding them to the batter. Nothing fancy here at all. I dropped them into the hot oil to make little haystacks.
For a first try, these were pretty good. Frying isn’t normally part of my kitchen repertoire so this will be a learn as I go kind of thing. I dropped the fritters into the oil when it hit 350°, but I think 375° would be better next time. The fritters fried for 2-3 minutes on each side, but I think that was a little too short. Maybe 4 minutes a side for next time in order to get some deeper color on the crust.
Even considering the learning curve, they came out really tasty. The apples were perfectly soft and sweet, the crust was crisp, and the pumpkin pie spice of the ale added subtle flavor. I wasn’t a big fan of the haystack form, though. That turned out to not be a winning strategy. Overall, though, a very good first attempt.
Next time: chopped apples and Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale.
Me: Please take all the pliers from the junk drawer and put them in the toolbox.
Him: Okay. Where are they?
M: …please take all the pliers from the junk drawer and put them in the toolbox.
H: I heard you. Where are they.
M: What did I just say to you?
H: Take all the pliers and put them in the toolbox.