Sunday, June 26, 2011

Untraditional Crock Pot Jambalaya

A jambalaya recipe? On a blog about rants and music?

Yes. It's that awesome. And it's a Vox Acerbus original.

Why is it "untraditional"? Well, first off, the cajun purists will decry the omission of celery, but I don't really like it, so it's OUT! Also, Asian chili garlic sauce is generally not used on the bayou. The recipes I've seen don't call for ground cumin. In place of shrimp, I use ham. Don't get me wrong - I love a good seafood gumbo - but ocean dwellers need not apply for this dish. And finally, I don't cook rice with it.

1 lb. diced ham
1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and chopped
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 small clove garlic, coarsely minced
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice (I only use Dei Fratelli or Red Gold)
1 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp prepared minced garlic
1 tbsp prepared asian chili garlic sauce
2 tsp hot pepper sauce


2 tbsp cajun seasoning
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Place all ingredients except for the dried seasonings into the crock pot and stir to combine. Next, combine all of the dried seasonings into a container with a lid or a small Ziploc bag and shake until mixed. Add the mixed dried seasonings to the crock pot and stir until well blended. Set the crock pot for low and leave it alone for 7-8 hours. Serve with pasta and plenty of crusty french bread.


- chop the pepper and onion rather coarsely because they will keep more of their texture and flavor over the long cooking time.

- Dei Fretelli and Red Gold brands of canned tomatoes have a lining inside of the can that keeps the tomatoes tasting like tomatoes. Other brands use regular cans and the tomatoes will add a tin can/metallic taste to the whole pot. Sounds stupid, but trust me.

- blending the dried seasonings before adding them to the pot makes for even flavor throughout. Remember, you aren't (or shouldn't) stir it once the cooking has starting.

- there is a difference between flavor and heat. Hot sauce can always be added to taste when served, but too much during cooking will overpower the distinct blend of flavors.

I'm out-

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Vox Acerbus Best Music of 2010

Melancholy is my mission statement.

I am often asked why I am so fixated on misery, and aside from the fact that I’ve had my share of it, the answer is simple. Sadness is real. It’s pure, it’s raw, and it’s universal. Songs of despair are preceded by sad, sometimes traumatic events, providing an underlying foundation of truth. They are written as a meager and usually futile attempt at redemption. They ask questions that won’t be answered, so an attempt at catharsis becomes nothing more than a dreary memory over time.

Love songs, conversely, are speculative. They rely on false ideals and empty promises. You can’t legitimately claim eternal love for someone. There is no such thing as “forever”, “always”, or “till the end of time”. You can’t move heaven and earth or dance among the stars, and you can’t deliver on a promise of “happily ever after”.

These notions, while quaint, are hollow gestures. The reality is that people and relationships and life spans are finite. It’s there today, but no amount of strategy or desire can change tomorrow from the total variable that it is. I prefer the brutal honesty of a forlorn song because I can believe it. I know it’s real, and since I can truly comprehend it, I become emotionally invested, and the hallmark of any good song is a personal attachment.

As always, the songs are culled purely from my personal iTunes library. I don’t consult any other “best of” lists or research the album charts. It’s my list, so it comes from my iPod. All of them have at least one lyric that stood out to make me include it here. A song can have a gorgeous melody or a stirring arrangement, but if the lyrics are pointless and inane, the song cannot stand on its own.

So now, without further delay and in no particular order, I present the Vox Acerbus Best Music of 2010.

1. “Northwestern Skies” by Tired Pony, from the album The Place We Ran From

“There’s no answers in the tempest . . . so just let it take you over”

Chaos theory is the measuring stick for the strength of the bond. Forget the serenity of sun, moon and stars – it’s the storm raging on the ground that determines future course.

2. "All To All" by Broken Social Scene, from the album Forgiveness Rock Records

"I've seen the gone too small, the lost of law, the almost made it . . ."

Ultimatums are the death knell of relationships, but are a savvy way of jumping ship when you know ahead of time that the other party won't acquiesce to the demand.

3. "Forgetting" by David Gray, from the album Foundling

"A wiping it clean, a minute Armageddon"

The hardest part of a dismal relationship is the lasting memory it leaves in its wake. Pain fades, but the recollection never fully dissipates.

4. "Heaven on Earth (The Things We Got to Do)" by Alphaville, from the album Catching Rays on Giant

"instead repeating history without a care how much we hurt"

It's going to crush your spirit, but you do it anyway. The only way to proceed is in denial of the potential consequences. Nice.

5. "Sycophant" by The Courteneers, from the album Falcon

"I'd rather entertain disdain from someone I love"

Perfection is unattainable, and the failure to accept that notion is the surest way of bringing it to fruition.

6. "Taxi Cab" by Vampire Weekend, from the album Contra

"Nostalgic for garbage, desperate for time"

One party's faults are inadmissible while the other's are argued ad infinitum. Sadly, this is often the default setting, and the dance continues long after the music has stopped because the familiarity and safety is better than any uncertain alternative.

7. "Coming Home to Me" by Patty Griffin, from the album Downtown Church

"When you're lost and you're found, and you're found and you're lost"

Confusion can be a healthy element if it's used to assess the relationship rather than question it. Facing "what if?" is necessary to avoid "what was".

8. "Basket Case" by Sara Bareilles, from the album Kaleidoscope Heart

"I don't say much, and it'll stay that way"

Introspection can be helpful. Or not.

9. "Like Rock and Roll and Radio" by Ray Lamontagne & The Pariah Dogs, from the album God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise

"Do you remember how you were before the sorrow?"

Simply stated, the past cannot sustain the future. A gradual descent into complacency is always fatal, even if it takes decades.

10. "History of Modern (Part 2)" by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, from the album History of Modern

". . . surrender to the rage . . ."

Anger is an inherent part of the human dynamic, and when channeled productively, I think it saves more relationships than it claims. It's the necessary opposite to harmony and they must co-exist.

11. "Sorrow" by The National, from the album High Violet"I live in a city sorrow built"

Sorrow, as a state of mind, should be celebrated, just as it is in this song. Some people prefer it and do what they can, medically and otherwise, to sustain it.

12. "Unspoken" by Hurts, from the album Happiness

"I'd rather be lonely than be by your side"

Once you've reached the breaking point, silence should prevail.

13. "Love Come (Piano Version)" by Sarah McLachlan, from the album Law of Illusions

"a dream of some kind of peace"

As the album name and cited lyric suggest, the bliss of love is illusory. This acoustic version captures that feeling better than the album version.

14. "The Chorus Girl" by Steven Page, from the album Page One

"A love song to make you choke"

The temptation will always be too strong to resist, but giving in to it won't always work out. Therein lies the rub.

15. "The Book of Love" by Peter Gabriel, from the album Scratch My Back

". . . is long and boring, no one can lift the damn thing"

This strings only cover of The Magnetic Fields lends itself to the delicate and beautiful nature of the subject matter. There are untold billions of editions of this book.

16. "Dead Hearts" by Stars, from the album The Five Ghosts

"It's hard to know that you still care"

This is a stoic and stunningly beautiful song, a retrospective of lost love and its lingering effects.

17. "What You Call Love" by Guster, from the album Easy Wonderful

"The violence was a source of strength"

Any port in a storm, or something like that.

18. "Ready to Start" by The Arcade Fire, from the album The Suburbs

"But I would rather be alone than pretend I feel alright"

This is a coming of age tale about casting aside all doubts and making the decision to commit to adulthood. Ready - begin.

I'm out-

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 58

Wow - another 3 day gap. I really need to start getting consistent and stringing together some days or this is never going to work.

At least the rest resulted in a fast pace tonight.

Time: 1:04:15

Distance: 17.42 miles

Avg. speed: 16.2 mph

Maximum speed: 18.2 mph

Music: The Courteeners - Falcon

Relevant lyric: "I'd rather entertain disdain"

Miles to March 2010 goal: 16.01

Days to March 2010 goal: 1


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 24:19:41

Distance: 344.11 miles

Avg. speed: 14.14 mph


No Gullet Report. In fact, the Gullet Report was a stupid idea. I am nowhere near organized enough to pull off something like that. I'll just promise to eat less crap instead.

I'm out-

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 54

Its been a while since I rode on consecutive days, and the difference between today and yesterday was quite evident. The pace was still quick, but I honestly don't know if I had another 7+ miles in me like I did last night. Simply put, I was starting to force it, and that's never a good thing. Reason prevailed, and I stopped once I hit "respectable" status. Again, a clear sign that I am getting away from the "all or nothing" mentality and using some common sense.

Time: 1:00:20

Distance: 15.5 miles

Avg. speed: 15.3 mph

Max. speed: 23.0 mph

Music: The Killers - Live From The Royal Albert Hall

Relevant lyric: ". . . decades disappear like sinking ships, but we persevere . . ."

Miles to March 2010 goal: 33.43

Days to March 2010 goal: 5


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 23:15:26

Distance: 326.69 miles

Avg. speed: 14.05 mph


This marks the first time my average speed has crept over 14 mph, so obviously I am getting faster as I go along. Thank you, Dr. Science. As far as a measurable stat goes, that one is pretty key when it comes to cycling.

Again, no Gullet Report, because even though it's after 3 PM, I haven't eaten anything yet, and since I'm diabetic, I should go go eat something before I fall over.

I'm out-

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 53

Barenaked Ladies said it best - "it's been one week since I . . ."

Speaking of Barenaked Ladies, their new album "All in Good Time" is very good, and I highly recommend it.

But I digress . . .

I knew there would be some off days with my vacation and work travel over the last week, but I was really hoping to sneak in a ride or two. Alas, it wasn't to be, and even though I'm a little bummed out, it isn't the kind of thing that would have derailed previous efforts. Before now, it would have been a total momentum killer, and the Experiment would have been over. Not anymore. Shrug it off and get back on, and that's what I did tonight. It's all about realistic goals and expectations, and I have managed to keep those in perspective.

Time: 1:28:52

Distance: 22.68 miles

Avg. speed: 15.3 mph

Max. speed: 19.7 mph

Music: Barenaked Ladies - All in Good Time and Barenaked Ladies - Barenaked Ladies Are Me

Relevant lyric: "I'm a walking advertisement for everything I never meant to be"

Miles to March 2010 goal: 48.93

Days to March 2010 goal: 6

To take 8 days off and be able to jump and crank out a pretty fast 22+ miles is astounding to me, and it solidifies my feeling that I am turning the corner on being physically fit again.


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 22:15:06

Distance: 311.19 miles

Avg. speed: 13.98 mph


No Gullet Report report right now - I haven't had dinner yet. And in case I don't come back and edit this post, I will disclose that I stopped at Wendy's and had a spicy chicken sandwich and chili (instead of fries - it's all about choices) for lunch, with a Dr. Pepper, because who doesn't love a Dr. Pepper every now and then?

An added bonus - I thought I had 86+ miles to go to reach goal, but it was only 71+. Nice. That takes a little of the pressure off.

I'm out-

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 44

Last night took a lot out of me, but I think the worst of my illness is over. I managed some good distance at a respectable albeit slower pace, and I was able to do it without coughing up a lung membrane or something. Nice.

Time: 1:03:49

Distance: 15.28 miles

Avg. speed: 14.3 mph

Max speed: 22.6 mph

Music: Greg Laswell - Take A Bow

Relevant lyric: ". . . go ahead and take everything . . ."

Miles to March 2010 goal: 71.61

Days to March 2010 goal: 15


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 20:46:14

Distance: 288.51 miles

Avg. speed: 13.89 mph



8 AM coffee

12 PM general tso's chicken, fried rice, Coke

7 PM 20 oz Gatorade G2 (during ride)

8 PM corned beef on rye, iced tea

The next ride should put me over 300 miles. It would be cool to hit goal this weekend because I travel for work next week, but that's not too realistic. I'll give it a shot though - I continue to amaze myself during these last few weeks.

I'm out-

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 43

My cold has rendered me useless for the last 3 days, but I am an idiot, so tonight I got on the bike and hammered out miles like a fool.

I would have been happy with 10 miles at any pace, but once I got started, sheer stubborn stupidity took over and I started cranking.

Time: 57:15

Distance: 15.04 miles

Avg. speed: 15.7 mph

Max. speed: 18.4 mph

Music: Howard Jones - Best of Howard Jones

Relevant lyric: "This is an answer to every question, this is a place to begin."

Miles to March 2010 goal: 86.89

Days to March 2010 goal: 16


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 19:42:25

Distance: 273.23 miles

Avg. speed: 13.86 mph



8:00 AM coffee

11:45 AM BBQ chicken salad, iced tea

3:00 PM Diet Vernors

5:30 PM 20 oz Gatorade G2 (during ride)

7:30 PM pizza, bread sticks, & beer

All evil food and beverage will be posted in red to call attention my failures.

It's halfway through the month and I am almost 20 miles ahead of pace to make the goal of 210 miles for the month, and that's with rampant sickness. Not too shabby.

I'm out-

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 41

Today was miserable. My sinus issues have developed into a cold, and I struggled to barely make it as far as I did. But dammit - I rode, a good sign that this is developing into a commitment instead of a hope that it continues.

Time: 48:57

Distance: 11.32 miles

Avg. speed: 13.8 mph

Max. speed: 27.3 mph

Music: We Were Promised Jetpacks - These Four Walls

Miles to March 2010 goal: 101.93

Days to March 2010 goal: 18


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 18:45:10

Distance: 258.19 miles

Avg. speed: 13.77 mph


No Gullet Report today. As bad as I feel, I won't eat much anyway.


I'm out-

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 39

Two days in a row? Yes. You know how I can tell? My knees feel like they took a pipe like Nancy Kerrigan. Damn you, Jeff Gillooly.

Other than that, today was a great day. The ride was good, the Gullet Report contains no embarassing items, the new music I listened to in the saddle was one of the best albums I've ever heard, and the scale yielded favorable results.

Time: 59:18

Distance: 15.13 miles

Avg. speed: 15.3 mph

Max. speed: 18.5 mph

Music: The Courteeners - Falcon

Relevant lyric: "I think it's time for me . . . to take over the world"

Miles to March 2010 goal: 113.25

Days to March 2010 goal: 20


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 17:56:13

Distance: 246.87 miles

Avg. speed: 13.76 mph



9 AM coffee

1:30 PM footlong Veggie Delite, iced tea

4:30 PM 32 oz Gatorade G2 (during ride)

6:00 PM coffee, steak, scrambled eggs, hash browns, wheat toast

And finally, the results from the new badass high-tech scale. Remember, the old scale had me 4 pounds lighter than the new one, but it did register a 4 pound loss, and dammit, I'm keeping them.

Previous weight: 226.4 lbs

Current weight: 222.4 pounds

Cumulative weight loss: 8 pounds

I'll take 8 pounds in 39 days, because I think it will ultimately be sustainable.

To quote Ice Cube - today was a good day.

I'm out-

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 38

Sunday, I wrote that I need to string more consecutive days together and get off the every other day schedule I've worked myself into. And then I took 2 days off. No excuses - just stating the obvious - but I really do need to get my shit together. I think the daily journals for the Gullet Report will help pull all of this together.

And then tonight I screwed up my bike computer and it measured everything in kilometers. I lack focus. I lack discipline. I need Mr. Miyagi.

Time: 1:16:34

Distance: 18.29 miles

Avg. speed: 14.29 mph

Max. speed: 14.4 mph

Music: Nine Inch Nails - And All That Could Have Been

Relevant lyric: "Hey pig . . . yeah you"

Miles to March 2010 goal: 128.38

Days to March 2010 goal: 21


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 16:56:55

Miles: 231.74 miles

Avg. speed: 13.67 mph


Other than that, I got nothin'.

I'm out-