Hood Canal

A couple of our friends have a nice waterside place on Hood Canal in Washington. To get there, we head north on I5 until we hit Olympia then head up 101 to Shelton then over to Belfair and down 106. We drove up Friday morning after breakfast and arrived in time to relax and sit on the deck overlooking the water.

Boats at the dock

Boats at the dock

Rising tide on Hood Canal

Rising tide on Hood Canal

We heard a plane overhead and saw this float plane going back and forth over the canal.

Float plane over Hood Canal

Float plane over Hood Canal

When the tide goes the boats on the docks are high and dry.

Low Tide at Hood Canal

Low Tide at Hood Canal

One of the neighbors has a beautiful sailboat out in the deeper part of the canal.

Sailboat at anchor at Hood Canal

Sailboat at anchor at Hood Canal

As the evening came on we had adult beverages and snacks.

Adult beverages were served

Adult beverages were served

Baby carrots: one of the hors d'oeuvres

Baby carrots: one of the hors d’oeuvres

They have a nice collection of seashells.

Sea shell collection

Sea shell collection

The next day we went up to the Theler wetlands nature preserve in nearby Belfair. We walk the three mile trails most every time we visit.

View from the Theler Wetlands nature preserve in Belfair, Washington

View from the Theler Wetlands nature preserve in Belfair, Washington

View from the Theler Wetlands nature preserve in Belfair, Washington

View from the Theler Wetlands nature preserve in Belfair, Washington

Carla and friend at the wetlands nature preserve in Belfair Washington

Carla and friend at the wetlands nature preserve in Belfair Washington

Our second night provided some drama. About 3:30PM a pickup truck towing a trailer roared down the local highway, lost control about 5 houses down the road and slammed into a power pole. We heard the screech and the BAM! We went out front to see what happened. I – along with plenty of others judging from the busy circuits – called 911. There was a fire that I think was brought under control fairly quickly. Two fire trucks; two medic trucks and plenty of police came down to help.

The power pole was sheared and was kept up by leaning on the truck that hit it. After the emergency was taken care of the local power company came out to replace the pole and transformer. We didn’t have electricity back until 10:30 at night. But no worries. good friends make for good times.

The nighttime view of the canal is beautiful.

Late evening on Hood Canal

Late evening on Hood Canal

Sunday morning after breakfast we packed up earlier than usual and headed home. We were a little concerned about the impact of southbound eclipse traffic. But we had no problems and made it home in just a little over our usual time.

We had a good time and look forward to being invited again.

A note on the photos. I used Sony Memories to transfer them from my camera to my IOS Camera Roll on my iPad. I then imported selected pictures in to Lightroom Mobile to make some adjustments, then exported them back to the IOS camera roll. And I can’t seem to get my banner photo to work in this post. And after moving them back and forth the adjustments don’t move. Definitely things to work on before our next road trip

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Foliage and Landscape, Friends, Photography, Travel | Leave a comment

Providence Bridge Stride 2017

August 13, 2017

Without a doubt my favorite Portland walk is the annual Providence Bridge Pedal and Stride. It is special because it only happens one day a year. The city shuts down many of the bridges in town for a Sunday morning and turns them over to bicyclists and walkers. This is the third year in a row we’ve done it and it was the best yet – we got to walk over four bridges instead of just two!The starting point is just south of the Morrison Bridge on the Portland Waterfront. After crossing the Morrison we head south and then over the top deck of the  Marquam Bridge – an I5 interstate bridge. From there we have a mile or so on the closed-for-the-morning I405 freeway and across the other I5/I405 bridge that spans the Willamette River in Portland – the Fremont. Finally we head south and over the Steel Bridge back to the finish line at Portland Tom McCall Waterfront Park.  Here is the map.

2017 Providence Bridge Stride Route

2017 Providence Bridge Stride Route

 

Carla and I, along with her sister and her friend and our visitor from Italy hopped on MAX about 7:15 and headed into downtown. Last year Carla was out of town so her sister and I did it ourselves; we got there early and were at the head of the pack. Today we missed the earlier MAX train so got to the starting line just to see the main striding pack about 1/4 mile down the road. No worries – we had plenty of time and didn’t have to contend with too many walkers.

If you live in the Northwest you  know we have had an extended heat wave (for us) – I think 6 weeks without measurable precipitation. With smoke blowing in from the many fires up in British Columbia it hasn’t been the most pleasant weather to be out in. But Saturday night / Sunday morning a marine front came in from the Pacific giving us a bit of rain and lots of cloudy skies. I think the bridges look a little nicer with blue sky backgrounds; but we were happy to have it cool and smokeless skies.

I won’t bore you with too much narrative; I’ll let the pictures do the talking – click on the images to get bigger views if you wish. Oh, whom am I kidding; I can’t shut up; I’ll have plenty to say.

Looking south from the Morrison Bridge

Looking south from the Morrison Bridge

Hawthorne Bridge with OHSU in the background

Hawthorne Bridge with OHSU in the background

Here is the newest span across the Willamette River – Tilikum Crossing. Cars aren’t allowed – it’s a commuter bridge for pedestrians, busses, streetcar, and MAX.

Tilikum Crossing as seen from the Marquam Bridge

Tilikum Crossing as seen from the Marquam Bridge

The scene on top of the tall interstate bridges is a party with everyone stopping to snap photos and get some snacks.

Providence Bridge Pedal/Stride on the Marquam Bridge

Providence Bridge Pedal/Stride on the Marquam Bridge

Our Italian visitor doesn’t like to have her photo taken but consented to memorialize the occasion. Here is our little group.

The striders!

The striders!

As we walked down the west side of the Marquam Bridge we had a very nice view of OHSU. It’s the local county hospital, medical school, dental school, nursing school, VA hospital, and research facility. If you look at the center of the picture just in front of the blue “L” shaped building you can see the the tram station. There are two cable trams running from the hill down to the new clinics, schools, and research centers sprouting up on the south Waterfront. I’m proud to say I’ve been part of the institution going on 18 years – though I work in downtown Portland.

OHSU campus in the Portland West Hills

OHSU campus in the Portland West Hills

After a longish walk north on the eerily car-free I405 southbound lanes we approached the other I5/I405 bridge – the Fremont. Like most of the downtown bridges, this was built before we moved to Portland in the 70’s. The huge  middle part between the arches was fabricated in California, assembled at Swan Island north of the city, and floated up the Willamette and gently dropped into place. I would have like to have seen that. You can read about it here.

Approach to the Fremont Bridge

Approach to the Fremont Bridge

 

Top Deck of the Fremont Bridge

Top Deck of the Fremont Bridge

More entertainment on this bridge. A group of Japanese drummers.

Drummers providing entertainment on the Fremont Bridge

Drummers providing entertainment on the Fremont Bridge

After lingering on the party deck for a while we finished crossing and headed south to our final bridge crossing – the Steel bridge. With the Burnside Bridge in the forefron you can see some of the other bridges. the Marquam is the tall one to the south and you can see one of the spires of Tilikum Crossing in the left background. I think of the Willamette River being straight through downtown Portland but it definitely has a bend or two.

Looking south from the Steel Bridge

Looking south to the Burnside Bridge from the Steel Bridge

 

Portland Waterfront from the Steel Bridge

Portland Waterfront from the Steel Bridge

After crossing the finish line we had a cookie or piece of fruit and went hunting lunch. We were on Pine Street so we couldn’t pass by Pine Street Market – a big hall with a few dining options inside – think of it as a mall food court on steroids. Portland is a renown foodie town so you won’t find franchise food here – there are great options for burgers, pizza and other treats. Carla’s sister and her friend had Vietnamese Bim Bop bowls with plenty of veggies and a fried egg on top. Carla and I had ramen from Marukin – don’t think Top Ramen in the cellophane packets. This is the real deal; delicious noodles in an ambrosia-like broth. I had pork broth; Carla and a combination of pork and chicken. I’ve eaten ramen in a few Portland spots – this is the best. Our Italian visitor had pizza. She’s been sampling pizza and pasta on her visit to see how it matches the real deal back home. The pizza isn’t like the Italian version she is used to but it is good.

Um, why no pictures of lunch? Cause I was too hungry to  think about taking any! Sorry

The walk was just over 7.5 miles – not too bad at all. If your are thinking of coming to Portland, August is a great time and the Providence Bridge Pedal and Stride is a great way to see the city – in a way you just can’t whizzing by in your car.

 

Posted in Foliage and Landscape, Friends, Photography, Portland, Walking | Leave a comment

Walking in the Neighborhood

I try to get out and walk quite a bit. It’s so much easier in the summer than the winter. The light and absence of rain makes it easy to get out most any time – though this summer we’ve been hit by a long hot streak. I don’t go out if it’s over 90.

Over the years I’ve slowly extended my range and I have a series of walks depending on how long I want to go and how strenuous a walk I want. After a hard day of work I’ll go a little longer than 2 miles on pretty flat terrain through the local high school and back through the neighborhood. When I really want to stretch myself I have a walk just shy of 6 miles with an elevation gain of just over 400 feet.

There are two parts of walking I don’t like: dogs and traffic. Barking dogs behind fences are annoying but I understand; it’s the dogs not on leash that give me pause. On the Memorial Day weekend of 2016 I was on one of my normal routes when I noticed a German Shepard hanging next to his owner who was cleaning out her car. Although he had a leash, it wasn’t connected to anything. As soon as I came near the house the dog rushed at me snapping and snarling; he got a nip at me as I turned away – just before the owner got him. He nipped my pants but didn’t get my skin – a close call. I gave the owner a loud and prolonged piece of my mind.  “DO YOU KNOW HOW FRIGHTENING THAT IS!?”Now if I’m walking and see a dog not on a leash I’ll call out “DOG! DOG!” to the owner so s/he will get it in. I may get a funny or nasty look but I just don’t think I should have to deal with it.

Traffic is another consideration; one of my extended walks takes me along a feeder road – Brockman, for those in the area – that has a steady stream of traffic. Earlier this summer I was trying to listen to a baseball game (go Dodgers!) but the traffic roar drowned it out. I determined to find another route that parallels Brockman to get over to the Fanno Creek Trail. Eureka, Carr St runs just a couple of blocks north of Brockman and goes through a beautiful little neighborhood.IMG_0667a

As I turned a corner to join back up with the pathway that leads to a bridge over Brockman/Greenway I saw an awesome site. Rather than completely cutting down a tree, someone carved a totem pole of sorts.

IMG_0640a

Only half a block from my normal route but I had completely missed it for years. What a nice little treat.

South Beaverton is supplied with ample walking trails enabling the walker to stay off the roadways. Being western Oregon we have plenty of little creeks that run through town; many of the walkways parallel the creeks. We even have Beavers in Beaverton. They are very industrious – we have a couple of the little creeks effectively dammed up. I’ll try to get a picture of one on a walk soon.

Out of all the greenery I came across a dead tree next to one of the creeks.

IMG_0657a

I wonder what happened to it; everything around it is nice and green.

Did I tell you about last spring when a big wind storm knocked down some sections of fences? Out on a walk a couple of days afterward I saw something on the other side of a broken fence. It wasn’t a dog; I couldn’t figure out what it was until I took a picture and blew it up a bit. It’s a PIG!

IMG_0023

Someone’s going to be having barbecue this summer. Funny how we never really know what is going on in the houses we walk by.

And speaking of walking; tomorrow we will take part in our third Providence Bridge Pedal/Stride.  We walk it. The city shuts down some of the bridges and roads in Portland allowing thousands of walkers and bikers to enjoy the views. You can read about our experiences in 2016 and 2015. This year we’ll walk over four bridges including both the I5/I405 bridges: the Marquam and the Fremont.

 

Posted in Foliage and Landscape, Walking | Leave a comment

Reading: Strangers in Their Own Land

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American RightStrangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

NOTE: One of these days I’ll write a short review; this is not that day. This review is unlike most of my others where I try to go point-by-point through the author’s arguments, highlighting them with quotes from the book. In this book I give a broad overview of her narrative I then respond with my own opinions. So, much, if not all, of the opinions here are mine and not necessarily the author’s.

Since last Fall (2016) I’ve been reading in an attempt to understand the rise and the gripes of the far right wing (e.g. The Tea Party). This book directly addresses the issue through the “keyhole” topic of pollution in Louisiana. Arlie Hochschild went down to Louisiana for an extended stay getting to know the people in order to understand their political and social views.

The book opens with a harrowing tale of the damage done to a bayou from dumping toxic chemicals in the waterways. An old cypress tree forest is just gone. It’s no longer safe to eat fish from the water or go swimming in it – or even drink it. But when warning signs went up conservatives in the area were angry at the intrusion of the government into what in their minds should be a private matter.

Fracking breached a salt cavern causing an enormous sinkhole that swallowed everything within hundreds of yards ruining property and homes. Once again, many conservatives objected to any government interference or actions against the company.

Instead, governor Bobby Jindal doubled down on this laissez-faire attitude by cutting the state’s budgets for education and social services and gave that money to entice more chemical companies to the state in the hopes of creating more jobs. However, there aren’t many low skill / high way jobs from these new sites. Foreign workers were brought in to build the plant, and with increasing automation there is not a much need for manual laborers. Moreover, many high skilled professionals such as engineers aren’t interested in going to live in Louisiana because the infrastructure is all but gone and the natural areas are polluted beyond use. In her awesome Appendix C, the author shows that states with stronger environmental law enforcement and better infrastructure actually experience better employment growth.

Hochschild breaks the conservatives into three large, overlapping groups. Loyalists who don’t want to turn against the industries that give them jobs; cowboys who just tough it out and figure they can handle anything thrown at them; and, the religious who look to God rather than government for answers. God provides the ability to abide the hard times.

Hochschild reports that some of that distrust of government comes from the south’s experiences in the 1860s and 1960s. In the Civil War and Reconstruction the federal government descended on the south and took control of everything in an attempt to bring rights to the newly freed slaves. It is interesting to note that 151 years have passed since the end of the Civil War – much more time than elapsed between the founding of the country and the start of that war.

Then in the 1960s the federal government once again impinged on states’ rights by passing the Civil Rights Act. This was later compounded by expanded rights for women, and eventually the LGBTQ community. The decline of church attendance in the country exacerbates the problem – making many conservatives uncomfortable in today’s world. The Southern conservatives the author spoke with don’t want to be told who to like. They want to like their own kind – straight white folk (though Hochschild doesn’t say it as plainly as that). They only want to help their Christian friends. This, in my opinion, is flawed theology. The very heart of the New Testament calls for a new covenant. All three of the synoptic gospels quote Jesus as saying there are only two commandments. First, love God; and the “second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”. And who is your neighbor? The parable of the Good Samaritan makes it plain that our neighbors are everyone.

Hochschild developed a “deep story” metaphor of waiting in line for the American Dream. Poor, uneducated, white southerners have been standing in line waiting for their turn. Now government and society are giving other people cuts ahead of them in line. The blacks were given better places; then women; then foreigners and gay people.

That metaphor may give them reason to complain and feel like victims (though they chafe at that term) but it is fundamentally flawed. We can think of it as a line; but that line is horizontal, not vertical. I think of it like the Oklahoma land rush where people lined up horizontally at the territory border and took off at the canon shot to find their slice of the American dream. The poor, uneducated, conservative southern whites are feeling displaced not because others have received cuts in the vertical line, but because those people have been given equal place in the horizontal line. If everyone is equal, the whites lose the benefits of place. And really, those other groups aren’t given an equal place in the horizontal starting line; rather, they are just moved up a bit but really are still behind whites in many ways.

Finally, the “facts” that are quoted by the people in the book are often wildly wrong. Appendix C goes through many of these so-called facts and disputes them with the real facts and figures.
Certainly the poor, white, conservatives are under attack in today’s world. They are being pinched by the three forces Thomas Friedman writes about in “Thank You For Being Late”: Globalization, Climate Change, and Technology. These forces are causing fundamental changes in our society and if you don’t keep up, you’ll be left behind. The salad days of the 60s and 70s are gone; the low-skill / high-wage jobs of the past (auto workers for example) are disappearing; replaced by technology (robots) and overseas workers. No amount of complaining, wall building, tariffs, treaty-leaving, and isolation will work. The plight of the poor, unskilled, uneducated – whatever their politics or color – is only going to get worse. I don’t see that the Tea Party’s efforts to go back in time is going to fix that. It’s up to our politicians and leaders to change that narrative. Unfortunately, the Democrats have been too focused on identity politics to really touch the hearts of the poor, uneducated white people.

This tremendous book concisely and (I think) accurately reporting the root causes of the conservative movement today. If you want to understand how Donald Trump became president, this is an excellent place to start. But just because the reporting is accurate doesn’t mean the right-wing viewpoint is accurate. Their facts are often wrong (see Appendix C) and I argue their theology is wrong. And because the basis is wrong, their solutions of isolation and retrenchment are fundamentally flawed. They have the right to be wrong; I just wish they weren’t so powerful. But that power means they must be addressed.

View all my reviews

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Welcome to America! Tri-Tip

August 6, 2017

Back in the day, after Carla and I were married (1976), her parents rented out rooms to foreign students going to Community College in the Bay Area. I think it was organized through there church, but I’m not sure. They had some very interesting students stay and we stay in touch with a couple of them all these years later. One of the visitors was David from Italy; he and Glenn (Carla’s dad) really hit it off – so much so that David went to medical school and became a pediatrician like Glenn. David visited the family in 1988 and we went to Vancouver, BC to the Expo. Later Carla and her sisters went to Italy and stayed with David’s parents.

Fast forward to 2017. David is all grown up and married and has a couple of kids of his own. The eldest, a teenage daughter, came over from Italy this summer to meet and visit the family. She is rotating around the three sisters’ houses and we are all taking turns taking her out to see the sights. Last weekend we threw a family party at our house so the extended family could meet her. I wanted to make a real American meal for her. Burgers and hot dogs were my first thought but I wanted to upgrade a bit. I didn’t want to spend all day barbecuing a pork shoulder or a  brisket. Hmmm. Then it hit me: Tri-tip! It definitely represents the western US – I’ve heard it’s hard to get in the Midwest, South, and East. And, I LOVE tri-tip. I know I posted about cooking tri-tip not long ago, but what can I say? I had my camera out.

The rub is the thing; the Santa Maria rub I make contains plenty of pepper and garlic.

Santa-Maria Tri-tip rub ingredients

Santa-Maria Tri-tip rub ingredients

Santa Maria Rub ingredients

Santa Maria Rub ingredients

The other required piece of the recipe is a basting sauce of garlic infused olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Basting sauce ingredients for Tri-tip

Basting sauce ingredients for Tri-tip

I didn’t want to buy a bottle of infused oil so I made my own by sautéing four ounces of olive oil (I added more after taking the picture) and a LOT (10-12) garlic cloves passed through a presser. At first the garlic just lays there in the pan.

Garlic infused olive oil - the beginning

Garlic infused olive oil – the beginning

I used medium-low heat because I didn’t want to burn the garlic. In a minute or two it really gets going. It takes less than 5 minutes of simmering to get the garlic flavor into the oil. Be careful – don’t let the garlic burn.

Garlic infused olive oil at full simmer

Garlic infused olive oil at full simmer

After the oil cooled I mixed it with an equal amout of vinegar in a spray bottle.

Now it was time to cook. I filled a charcoal chimney with briquettes and lit them.

Heating up the charcoal on the Weber Performer

Heating up the charcoal on the Weber Performer

While waiting for the coals to ash over I rubbed the two tri-tip roasts. I cook tri-tip using the indirect method; I put the coals on one side of the grill and the meat on the other, positioning the air vents over the cool side of the grill to get the convection flow moving. Put a couple of small chunks of oak wood on the briquettes to really get that southwest flavor. Um, I had the chunks out but you can see from the photo they didn’t make it to the grill. doh!

Tri-tips rubbed and on the grill

Tri-tips rubbed and on the grill

I love grilling on our deck in summer – we are fortunate to have such a  beautiful view behind our house. If you look closely you can see the cooking thermometer I use; one probe is on the grill to measure the temperature where the meat is; the other is in the thickest part of one of the roasts.

Grilling on the back deck

Grilling on the back deck

I cook them for about 15 minutes, then flip every five minutes spraying the oil and vinegar mixture until the internal temp reaches about 125° I flip them briefly over the coals to get a nice char.

Searing tri-tips after roasting

Searing tri-tips after roasting

They then rest under foil until time to slice and serve.

Tri-tip ready for slicing

Tri-tip ready for slicing

And then I encountered a problem with my camera. A few weeks ago it had a hard time focusing sometimes. I talked with Sony repair and they suggested I do a hard reset. Ugh, that would mean losing all my customizations and presets. I logged all my current settings and reset the camera. The problem was solved. Yay. For a couple of weeks. Boo. The problem cropped up again on this shoot so I had to put the camera away. That means no final picture of dinner and no picture of the people at the party. Dang and double dang. We had potato salad, corn on the cob, green salad and watermelon for dessert. I real American dinner for our Italian guest.

Although still a teenager our guest was very poised and so fluent in English so we were able to communicate easily. It’s been a real delight to have her visit.

My tri-tip recipe can be found here. If you aren’t vegetarian, I highly recommend you cook this before summer is over. It’s easy and delicious.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Vietnamese Pork Skewers

A month or so ago my co-workers and I went to a great Vietnamese restaurant to celebrate Carolyn’s birthday. I ordered something that came with a skewer of pork deliciousness. I knew I had to make something like it. After all, we enjoyed the pork skewers I made a couple of years ago. Why haven’t I cooked skewers since them???

So, I went hunting on the internet. I knew I wanted to use pork tenderloin and two ingredients would likely be fish sauce and lemongrass so that helped me narrow my search. I found a nice recipe on myrecipes.com for Vietnamese pork tenderloin. In looks like the recipe comes originally from Steven Raichlen (barbecue/grilling expert) in the July 2012 edition of Cooking Light.

This recipe is actually for pork wraps – which I didn’t want to cook but the pork is pretty much the same for skewers – though I used larger chunks of pork. I sometimes have problems with the web versions of the recipes; there are usually at least two or three components for the dish (marinade, dipping sauce, etc) but the ingredients are just written in a straight line making it a bit difficult to manage where one component ends and another begins. So I adapted the recipe – keeping the ingredients the same – to print in a more readable format you can find here.

We start with the marinade. Note that I doubled the recipe for this cook.

Vietnamese Pork Skewers marinade ingredients

Vietnamese Pork Skewers marinade ingredients

The solids are roughly chopped by 1-second pulses in a food processor.

Vietnamse Pork Skewer ingredients ready for a ride

Vietnamse Pork Skewer ingredients ready for a ride

Then we add the liquids while the food processor is running. I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough for my two 1-pound pork tenderloins – which I chopped into 1-inch pieces. But it was the perfect amount. Then the marinade and pork  goes into a sealed zip lock bag for 2-4 hours. I think pork can get a bit mushy if brined too long, so I don’t recommend more than 4 hours. You’ll see on the myrecipes.com site the pork is cut into very small pieces. I followed my process from 2015 and using the 1-inch chunks.

While the meat was marinating, I created some vegetable skewers with red and yellow bell peppers, chunks of Walla-Walla sweet onions and cherry tomatoes.

Peppers, onions, and tomato skewers ready for grilling

Peppers, onions, and tomato skewers ready for grilling

Notice the skewers are flat. This helps SO much; I found that round skewers tend to spin inside the “skewies” [to make up a word] rather than flipping the ingredients on the grill. These are Weber skewers. These are part of the Weber Elevations System which allows you to grill without burning things on the grill itself.

I keep my vegetables and meat separate when I grill because the vegetables can do with a bit more time over the heat to caramelize the sugars. The vegetables aren’t in the printed recipe. Just cut things into 1-inch chunks and skewer away.

I still had plenty of time so I made the dipping sauce.

Vietnamese Pork Skewer dipping sauce ingredients

Vietnamese Pork Skewer dipping sauce ingredients

Vietnames Pork Skewer ingredients ready for combining

Vietnames Pork Skewer ingredients ready for combining

I was delighted with this dipping sauce – I’ve seen sauces in recipes with a bit of grated carrot. So this sauce was one of the reasons I went with this recipe. When I make it again I’ll grade the carrots even finer. You don’t have to separate the liquids in individual containers, I just have these and figured this picture was a perfect occasion to use them. Combine the carrots and sugar and rest for 10 minutes then whisk everything together.

Vietnamese Pork Skewer dipping sauce

Vietnamese Pork Skewer dipping sauce

Now we are getting ready to cook – so we skewer the pork bits. and head out to the grill where I cooked the vegetables on the lower level for a few minutes – until they picked up some char. Then move them to the upper level and cook the pork on the lower.

Vietnamese pork skewers and vegetable skewers on (above) the grill.

Vietnamese pork skewers and vegetable skewers on (above) the grill.

I have a couple of skewer-grilling tips.

  1. The vegetables got a bit more charred than I planned; so I brushed a bit of olive oil on them. In the future I’ll brush the oil on before they go on the grill.
  2. Get some heat resistant gloves – those skewers get REAL hot. I used Ov-Gloves but got toasty fingers before I could flip the five meat skewers. On Amazon Prime day I bought these Premium Men’s Silicone Gloves. They are BEASTS. Haven’t used them yet. I’ll let you know.

I cooked 4-minutes per side flipping twice or maybe three times. The National Pork Board says tenderloin should be cooked to 145° (medium-rare) – 160° (medium). I can’t give you a time because your grill and setup will be different. Remember that the skewers help cook them from the inside so keep an eye on them.

Vietnamese Pork Skewers and Vegetable skewers ready to eat

Vietnamese Pork Skewers and Vegetable skewers ready to eat

Dinner was served

Dinner is served. Vietnamese pork skewers, vegetables, dipping sauce, and rice

Dinner is served. Vietnamese pork skewers, vegetables, dipping sauce, and rice

Verdict: ★★★★ We enjoyed this. I think brushing the vegetables with olive oil before grilling and cooking a the pork a smidgen less will make this dish even better. 

 

 

Posted in Barbecue; BBQ;, Cooking | Leave a comment

Reading: Hue 1968

Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in VietnamHue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam by Mark Bowden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“As the subtitle says, the Tet Offensive in February 1968 was the beginning of the end of American involvement in the Vietnam War. The US top military, led by General Westmoreland, failed to discover the build up and failed to respond appropriately once the attacks started. “”Nowhere in [Westmoreland’s] understanding of the war was there room for the size an quality of the force that had taken Hue. So the MACV [headquarters] in Saigon and General LaHue in Phu Bai, simply refused to believe it had happened. Reports that contradicted this high-level understanding were dismissed as unreliable, the cries of men facing real combat for the first time, and panicking. Against the certainties of the American command, the truth never stood a chance.”” [Loc 2527] Westmoreland’s estimates of the enemy force was 500 “”off by a factor of twenty.””[Loc 2527″”””
The result of the ignorance and denial was to send Marines and Army “”on a fool’s errand immediately on arrival at the compound [of Hue]””[Loc 2010] “”Westmoreland seemed almost oblivious to the largest single battle of the Tet Offensive, if not of the entire war, under way in Hue. His forces there were badly outnumbered, struggling, and dying.””[Loc 3206]
And the enemy was not what had been experienced before. “”[Marine Calvin] Hart had come to Vietnam expecting to fight amateurs, little men in black pajamas and conical hats who were no match for United States Marines. But the enemy encountered in Hue was tough and professional, every bit their match. These fighters were uniformed and well-equipped, and they set up defensive positions and fields of fire as good as anything taught by the Corps””[Loc 7421]
As American deaths mounted in the face of the Army commands assurances the battle was nothing, the American public started to turn against the war. Perhaps the biggest force of change in America’s understanding of war was Walter Cronkite’s reporting after his visit to the war zone. If you are younger than maybe 50 you may not have an appreciation of Cronkite’s impact on public opinion. He was the anchor of the CBS news when there were only three or four national networks. Cronkite’s nightly newscast was the most watched. “”[W]hen he interviewed Westy in his crisp fatigues and with a chrome0-plated AK-47 in his office as a prop, the general seemed even more cocksure than usual. He repeated the official line that Tet had been a big success for his forces. He declared the battle of Hue over. He said that US forces and ARVN troops had soundly defeated ten thousand NVA and VC troops there – blithely contradicting his earlier assertion that there were no more than a few hundred enemy soldiers in the city.l Then Cronkite flew to Hue, where ten minutes on the ground was enough to show none of it was true. The battle was still raging.””[Loc 5865] When he returned to the states he delivered a pessimistic editorial on the state of the war. “”Cronkite’s cautious pessimism had tremendous impact and made it much harder to dismiss those who opposed the war as ‘hippies’ or un-American. It was hard to image an American more conventional and authentic than Walter Cronkite.””[Loc 8118] “”Tet had exposed Westy as an untrustworthy source of information, not just to the press and public, but even in his secret communications to the White House.””[Loc 7989]
One of the book’s biggest strengths is the view of the battle for Hue from the North Vietnamese side. Bowden was able to interview participants from The Front and the NVA, providing a narrative of the lead up to the battle. His other strength is his gripping storytelling of the battle from the American side. The description of Lieutenant Colonel Ernie Cheatham’s analysis of a battle situation where troops are pinned down by a machine gun shows the stuff heroes are made of: “”Cheatham studied the problem himself. He crawled out to a telephone pole and waited for the gun to fire. It was using green tracers, so he could see the trajectory of its rounds. He noticed that when it shot at things to its left, … the rounds were low, but whenever the gun shot to its right …, the aim was high. This suggested that the gunner’s field of fire was obstructed by something on that side, something that forced him to aim the gun up. If he was right, Cheatham figured there was a spot near him out on the street where a man could stand up and still be too low for the machine gun.””[Loc 4543] It takes a real soldier to keep cool in the heat of battle like that.
Bowden’s biggest weakness is discounting the impact of the battle of Khe Sanh on the battle for Hue. Bowden continually hammers on Westmoreland for his moving forces to Khe Sanh for the coming offensive. But if my understanding is right, the battle of Khe Sanh was actually happening at the same time. The Tet Offensive and attack on Hue was February 1968 while the battle of Khe Sanh went from late January into the spring of the same year.
All in all the Marines and Army officers who were leading the men in battle were made victims of the higher ups who simply refused to see the battle for what it was. “”This refusal to face facts was not just a public relations problem; it had tragic consequences for many of the marines and soldiers who fought there. If the extent of the challenge had been weighed realistically at the outset, if commanders had heeded the entirely correct CIS assessment on the first day, and if they had listened to their own field commanders, they might have held off the counterattack until they had readied an appropriate level of force and more effective tactics.””[Loc 8341] There is a lesson here for all leaders – not just military: be open to new information and act on it.

View all my reviews

Posted in Reading | Leave a comment