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Archive for January, 2013|Monthly archive page

Let the sun shine in!

In Recipies on January 29, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Every time I’ve lived in the colder climes at this time of year, I become restless for the advent of spring and summer. February is the month when I mentally lay out my garden and my patio plot of herbs. In a few weeks, I’ll start the seeds so I can begin hardening the tiny plants during the still-cool days of late March.

Just those thoughts set off cravings for the lighter meals of summer.

In May and June our table will begin to see summer pasta dishes, like peppery mohammarah bil shariyeh and velvety ratatouille served over rigatoni. Those dishes are months away, but preserved vegetables and olives can brighten up the dreariest late winter days.

For most pasta dishes, I’ve come to prefer whole wheat pasta over traditional semolina types. The whole wheat versions have, in my opinion, a better ‘bite’. But, semolina pastas can also please me if they are cooked al dente. That said, I find few things less appealing than overcooked (slimy) whole wheat pasta. So, be careful to follow cooking times carefully and always remove whole wheat pasta from the cooking water as soon as it is done.

The following is a fast-as-a-greyhound entrée you can prepare almost as fast as the pasta cooks. The sun-dried tomatoes, olives, capers, and herbs bring forth a brightly colorful dish in the colors of the Italian flag. While I use Aleppo pepper, any dried pepper flakes may be substituted. I simply prefer the ‘slow-burn’ heat that is characteristic of Aleppo pepper. A bit of chopped fennel (or cracked seeds) adds to the Tuscan flair of flavors. And the dish also recalls traditional Tuscan traditions of soffrito-style preparation (chopped vegetables, olives, and tomatoes very gently fried in generous quantities of olive oil) and it is served al a povera (peasant style) with hearty loaves of rustic Italian bread.

For my carnivore friends, yes, you can add meat. The dish lends itself well to (pre-cooked) small, traditional meatballs or pre-cooked Italian sausage scattered within. Purists wanting to stay with the Tuscan theme could consider adding bits of pre-cooked proscuitto or even left-over game meats.

The amount below easily serves four and it can be assembled in less than fifteen minutes.

Go!

12 – 16oz whole wheat penne rigate pasta

3 TBS olive oil

½ – ¾ tsp Aleppo pepper

½ tsp dried basil

¼ tsp cracked fennel seeds

½ tsp dried oregano

3 cloves garlic thinly sliced

1 TBS rinsed capers

¾ C oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

½ C green olives sliced

½ C kalamata olives sliced

5 green onions, minced

½ C grated pecorino Romano cheese

salt and freshly ground black pepper

OPTION: Add pre-cooked meatballs or crumbled Italian sausage

Heat a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente. When done, reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta well.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir the herbs, fennel seeds, garlic, Aleppo pepper, tomatoes, olives, and capers into the oil. Cook only until heated through. Stir in the reserved pasta water, allow it to almost boil off, and then remove from the heat. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Toss the skillet mix with the grated cheese and scatter the green onions over the top of the dish just before serving. Serve with loaves of Italian bread and a crisp white wine.

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How to eat like a human being

In Editorial on January 28, 2013 at 4:16 pm

“He has been a doctor a year now and has had two patients, no, three, I think — yes, it was three; I attended their funerals”. – Mark Twain

I spent several good years participating in the post-graduate education of quite a few American physicians. During that time, I cheerfully parroted the Party Line that salt was bad, cream was evil, eggs were the spawn of Satan, and that butter was a form of plutonium requiring special gloves just to handle it.

During my own, recent encounters with fellow quacks (I own scivvies that are older than most of them.), I regale them with my dietary preferences. The color drains from their fresh little faces when I tell them I cook with real butter, cream, and use salt. Their pale fingers hover over the telephone button for the funeral home as I admit to using half-and-half in my morning coffee.

America’s healthy foods are killing us. It’s time to eat in the human tradition.

First, we are omnivores. We are designed to eat meat, in limited quantities. I eat red meat in about the same quantities as my prehistoric family members…infrequently and in small (4-6oz) quantities. Meat, for our ancestors, was a rare treat that got shared by the whole tribe of freeloading Phyne Dyners. Infrequent meat dinners didn’t go far when they got divided up with everyone.

Second, we are wonderful examples of engineering. Our bodies contain an enormous array of sensors. Some of them are virtually one-celled units. These sensors send signals to glands to secrete substances needed for digestion and to signal our always-hungry brain to stop eating. And, while some of these sensors enjoy cross-sensitivity to ‘healthy’ compounds, they respond best to the substances we were designed to eat.

Fats, cholesterol, and other such things can create havoc when we eat them to excess or if we suffer from a condition or deformity that makes us unable to tolerate them. But all of them are necessary for life. Without them, our tissues would degrade and we would not produce necessary hormones and other substances. They, in moderation, are good for us.

The quacks are in the business of passing out pills, making you healthy is a secondary and purely coincidental pursuit of doctors. (Here’s the ‘skinny’ on my fellow quacks. Doctors endeavor to do three things: take your money, generate referrals, and keep you coming back for the preceding two. They get their drug information from the salesmen peddling them and they never take their own advice.)

Sure, I still eat my whole grains. I favor fats that are soluble at room temperature. But a little real butter can be my friend.

I used to tell my obese patients, “Inside of you, there’s a 150-pound man/woman screaming to be free.” A lot of them became indignant at the comment. They’d protest that they ‘ate healthy’…and they did.

But they ate too much.

Watch Americans eat at a buffet or restaurant. Their plates are covered with enough food to feed a family. Few of them remember how a single chicken provided enough meat for several meals and soup and gravy to boot…for a family of four. Now, one ‘normal size’ woman sits down to half of a yard bird and then waddles off in search of the dessert cart.

Over the past few months, I did my own experiment.

I began eating ‘real’ foods, the ones my fellow quacks told me were virtual cyanide. In response, I noticed my desire for food quantity abated. I got full faster and stayed full longer. I no longer prowled the kitchen an hour or two after eating for ‘something’ to nibble on. I filled in with veggies and grains. But, I didn’t compensate for smaller portions of meat and fats by eating a whole bowl of quinoa.

Pretty soon, the sensors in my body began sending the right signals to target tissues and organs. And, my food tasted better.

At my last visit with a quack, I posed him this question: “If modern medicine and lifestyle is so much better than that of our ancestors, why aren’t we living longer?”

The truth is, any gains in longevity have been offset with losses of life quality. At best, except for infectious disease and the advent of necessary surgical treatment of things like appendicitis, the length of our days has remained fairly constant.

My grandfather ate real butter in his food. Then he walked behind a team of horses for the rest of the day.

He did not fill his plate full of antibiotic and hormone-laden meat. He enjoyed a small piece of meat and a healthy helping of insecticide-free vegetables.

He didn’t live forever and the span of his days was right about at the average of seventy-five years. Not much of a difference in length than folks today who dine on fat-free, trans-fat free, sugar-free, and flavor-free foods of our day.

Eat the things you were designed to eat and eat them in the amounts you were intended to have them in; not the amount some advertising executive says you want.

A classic roast prepared in a classic cooker

In Recipies on January 28, 2013 at 3:23 pm
A Classic! (Rival)

A Classic! (Rival)

We have a terrible hoarding problem at my house. It’s a consequence of good fortune, our ability to take care of our things, and the success of our marriage that we still have almost all of our original wedding gifts.

One of those gifts was a classic Rival Crock-Pot in (Eeewwww!) ‘harvest gold’.

Until it became a classic (old enough not to be gauche), it always lived in our pantry or in a cupboard. Today, it sits proudly on display in my kitchen.

It seemed appropriate that I would use it to make our most recent, celebratory anniversary supper.

After dutifully excluding friends who are vegan or vegetarian (they understood being dropped from the ‘A’ list), I invited some folks over to share in some classic comfort food…

…a slow-cooked pot roast with vegetables.

First, some crock-pot vital information:

One of the touted advantages to slow cookery is that you can ‘set it and go about your day’.  Don’t do it. First, there’s the risk of fire. Second, there’s the risk of the pot going dry. Third, if the power goes off for a few hours and comes back on, you have created an excellent bacterial incubator.

Burning down the house, drying out $30 worth of food, or spending the rest of the evening worshipping at the ‘Most High Porcelain Altar’ are not among my favored leisure activities. So, a little caution goes a long way with slow cooking.

Another bit of vital information is to always brown meats on the stovetop before slow cooking them. Gray is not a normal meat color, unless one is eating of classic maritime (think US Navy) chow. (NOTE: Always pat meats dry before browning. Any surface moisture will just turn to steam, giving you the undesired gray hue.) And, turn the browning meat with tongs. A fork will allow juices to drain…contributing to dried out roasts later.

Finally, (except for the hunk of meat) try to select foods that are roughly the same size. Doing so will ensure that they are evenly cooked. A small carrot will turn to mush before a gianormous potato gets done.

You’ll need:

 3 lb lean chuck roast

½ large onion, in ¾” thick slices

6 large carrots, peeled

6 small potatoes, peeled

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 Roma tomatoes, small dice

6 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 TBS Dijon mustard

2 TBS Worcestershire sauce

1 bay leaf

4 TBS salted butter

½ C white wine

2-3 TBS olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Trim any excess fat from the roast and pat it dry. Season with a little salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides.

Place the onion slices in the bottom of the slow cooker, creating a small platform. Lay three rosemary sprigs on top with half of the garlic. Gently fit the browned roast on top of the platform. Carefully fit the potatoes and carrots around the meat. Lay the remaining rosemary and garlic on top.

In a medium bowl, mix the tomatoes, mustard, and Worcestershire. Pour on top of the other ingredients in the cooker. Re-heat the skillet the meat was browned in and deglaze it with the wine. Allow the deglazing mixture to cool a bit and then pout it into the slow cooker. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cover, and cook on ‘low’ for 8-10 hours.

Remove the roast from the cooker and onto a serving platter when done and tent it with aluminum foil. Use slotted spatulas or large, slotted spoons to do so. The meat will be very tender and will tend to fall to bits if roughly handled. Remove the vegetables to a warmed platter and keep warm in the oven.

Pour the liquid from the crock cooker through a strainer and into a large skillet. This part can be a two-man operation. Re-heat the liquid over medium heat. Whisk in the butter until it forms a creamy emulsion. If desired, a few tablespoons of instant potatoes can be used to thicken the sauce/gravy.

Carve the roast into 1-inch thick slices. Serve with the vegetables and with the gravy served in an accompanying ‘boat’.

This is a true, American classic.

Enjoy!

RARE FIND: Phyne Dyning’s “just desserts”…chocolate truffle

In Recipies on January 28, 2013 at 2:35 pm

It’s not that I dislike desserts. It’s just that I usually find myself wanting a larger portion of a savory entrée than I find myself wanting something sweet with which to finish off my meal. I also prefer to spend more kitchen time on mains, sides, and appetizers than on a dessert offering. NOTE: My proof-reading eyes are exhausted because my auto spell-check substituted ‘desert’ for dessert’ and ‘dessert’ for ‘desert’ on its own whim. I know the difference. But, my eyes are struggling with finding all of the incorrect substitutions. Thanks, Mr. Spell-Check.

Mrs. Phyne Dyner vigorously disagrees with my culinary preference and I occasionally oblige her preferences by occasionally abandoning fruit and cheese as closing features to special meals.

A recent case in point was my preparation of rich, chocolate truffle to finish off a hearty meal of roast beef.

It was a good choice.

There are few things that delight my Woman of Valor more than those little, round bundles of creamy chocolate-ness. It is impossible for her to eat one without closing her eyes, giving a Mona Lisa smile, and murmuring in pure content.

And even though I tend to avoid candies, I also deeply enjoy the rich and smooth creaminess that erupts when I bite into a barely warm truffle.

Ah, to capture that in a dessert.

I wanted something that fell between a ganache and a mousse. Not too ‘hard’. Not too ‘airy’.

I wanted to create a bowl of ‘truffle guts’.

Success!

The secret to my success was to slightly under-whip the heavy cream and not to overheat the melted chocolate. I also used chocolate with a cocoa content of about sixty percent.

At first glance, this appears to be a simple recipe. The devil is in the details. This is not a recipe for novices because you cannot read fast enough to cook it properly at the same time.

Consequently, some preliminary instructions:

Buy, or create, a double boiler with at least two upper pans. You have to move a bit fast when making this dessert and there’s no time to clean up and begin the next step. You can melt the chocolate and then move it off heat while you whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. In a pinch, you can always use two stainless steel mixing bowls and an appropriately sized pot of water.

While you are getting your ingredients together and separating the eggs, put your mixer bowl and a whisk in the refrigerator. Doing so will ensure that your whipped cream turns out perfect. In this recipe, we’re going for soft peaks rather than stiff ones. Be careful not to over whip. A stand mixer with a whisk is very helpful here.

Let’s get started. You’ll need:

1/3 C granulated sugar, minus 2 TBS reserved

4 large egg yolks

10oz (TEN!) bittersweet chocolate (60%)

2 C heavy cream

2 TBS cognac

small amount of butter

Place 4-10 dessert cups or dishes (serving size varies) in the refrigerator.

Heat the water for you double boiler over LOW heat. There should be steam rising from the water surface, but no bubbles or boiling. Place a large stainless steel mixing bowl on top and break the chocolate into the bowl. Allow the chocolate to melt very slowly.

In the chilled mixing bowl, pour in the heavy cream and the 1/3 C sugar (less the 2TBS reserve). Whisk by hand or at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Place the egg yolks and the 2 TBS of reserved sugar into the second stainless steel bowl. Then place the bowl on the double boiler and whisk the contents briskly, until the mixture doubles in volume. Be careful not to allow the eggs to get too hot, as they will curdle (‘seize’). If your eggs begin to seize, IMMEDIATELY remove from the heat and stir in a tablespoonful or so of the whipped cream. (NOTE: I always have the whipped cream nearby at this stage. Once the eggs fully curdle, there is no going back and you must start over.) Also, if ANY seizing or breakdown occurs, you will have to start over OR strain the mixture through a sieve so there are no bits of egg in the final result.

Whisk the cognac into the egg and sugar mixture and then whisk the egg mixture into the melted chocolate. (NOTE: The chocolate should be thoroughly melted, but not too hot. As long as it is about the same temperature as the egg mixture…cheers! Too hot and you risk seizing again.)

Now, GENTLY fold in the whipped cream, reserving about a cup for decoration (if desired). Fold it in from the outside of the bowl to the center, turn the bowl ninety degrees, and repeat. Keep folding and turning until the whipped cream is fully incorporated. The final result should be quite firm. If it is not, place the bowl in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for about thirty minutes or until service. Don’t forget to keep the reserved whipped cream cold too.

At service:

Apply a small amount of butter (not margarine) to the large scoop of a melon baller. Re-whip the whipped cream with a hand whisk if it softened. Place a small dollop of whipped cream in the bottom of the dessert cup or dish. Gently scoop out a ball of the chocolate truffle mixture and place it on top of the whipped cream. A toothpick is sometimes useful to coax the chocolate into the dish. Place 4-8 balls in each dish. The dessert is extremely rich and eating eight balls of it should induce a diabetic coma in your guests. I suggest accompanying this with STRONG coffee or espresso.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Off on a caper…

In Recipies on January 21, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Over the years, I’ve made several variations of tapenades. A tapenade contains black or green olives, capers, and anchovies as a base. One of my favorite variations include sautéd mushrooms, shallots and a splash of cognac for rolled flat steaks of beef. For fish, I use more green olives than black in my blend and go a little heavier with the capers.

It is the caper that makes the spread a true tapenade. In the French dialect used in the south of France (Provençal), the word for ‘caper’ is ‘tapenas’.

Capers are immature peppercorns and they’re a staple part of recipes in North Africa, Sicily, and Greece. They can be sweet to extremely pungent, depending on their origin. Because they’re typically preserved in brine, it’s sometimes important to give them a quick rinse before adding them to a recipe to avoid over-salting the dish. It’s also a good idea to taste a single caper before adding the called-for amount to your recipe; flavor intensities can vary greatly.

Tapenades are not just for use in stuffed or rolled meat or fish. They can also be served as a condiment or a spread for crackers or crudités where they are a sort of ‘poor man’s caviar’.

A few notes before we get started.

The chicken breasts for this recipe should be very high quality. Most frozen or supermarket chicken has a huge amount of water injected into it. Consequently, when they are cooked they tend to swell up like footballs. My most recent preparation of this dish failed the ‘eye appeal test’ when the waterlogged chicken breasts all but exploded during cooking. They tasted a great as always. But they looked pretty beaten up.

When you are cooking the breasts, be careful not to allow the pan to overheat and burn the glaze or the sugary juices from the fruit in the tapenade. Burning will give the finished sauce a very bitter flavor and ruin the dish.

I modeled this recipe from one from Chef Jacques Pepin. I used two dried prunes instead of a dried apricot. There was also sufficient oil in the anchovy packing to permit me to omit adding extra olive oil to the tapenade. If you add too much oil, the tapenade tends to fall apart easily. So, it’s better to go a little ‘dry’ for quality sake.

Finally, use some care in splitting the chicken breasts. Cut them from the ‘tender’ side. You’ll recognize the correct side because a small flap of meat (the tender) is attached to it. Carefully cut the breast to make a deep pocket. You can also pound the meat flat with a mallet. This is particularly helpful if the breasts are plump.

Here we go!

4 chicken breasts, split

2 TBS olive oil

1 C mixed green and kalamata olives

1 TBS rinsed capers

1 clove garlic or 2 TBS chopped shallot

2 dried prunes

1 1-oz can anchovies and their oil

1 lb white mushrooms, thickly sliced

½ to ¾ C white wine

2 TBS unsalted butter

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, process the olives, capers, anchovies, prunes, garlic (or shallot) into a coarse paste. Season with a bit of black pepper and allow the mixture to stand at room temperature while you prepare the chicken breasts. Doing so will allow the flavors to blend nicely.

Pre-heat your oven to 180F. Spread equal amounts of tapenade inside the cavity of each breast. Fold the breast back over the tapenade (or allow the ‘pocket’ to close). If the breasts are extremely ‘floppy’, you can tie them up with a bit of butcher’s twine to keep the tapenade mixture from falling out.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil to it. When the oil shimmers, gently lay the breasts into the oil. Slide them a bit a few seconds after placing them to ensure that they do not stick. Cook the breasts in the oil for about two minutes, then cover. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until the breast turns golden. Turn the breasts and re-cover. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.

Remove the breasts to an oven-safe glass platter. Place them in the warm oven while you sauté the mushrooms.

Add the mushrooms to the pan that the chicken was cooked in. Add a bit more olive oil if it is dry. Quickly sauté the mushrooms until they just begin to soften. Pour in the wine and stir briskly to de-glaze the pan. The pan should not be dry. Check the chicken platter for juices. Pour these into the sauté pan. There should now be about ¼” of liquid in the pan. If there is not, add more wine or a 50:50 mix of wine-water to the proper depth. Reduce the heat to simmer and stir in the butter. Continue to stir until the butter and juices form a smooth emulsion. Check the seasoning for the sauce and add salt and/or pepper as needed.

Remove the chicken to a serving platter and spoon the mushrooms and sauce over each breast. Garnish with chopped parsley leaves. Serves well with pasta, wild rice, potatoes, or long-grain white rice.

Steamed Fish with Leek-Onion Medley

In Recipies on January 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Today’s Phyne Dyning recipe offering has a decadent flavor and contains virtually no fat.

My local mass food retailer had just set out a bin of broccoli crowns at $1.19 per pound. I snatched up several pounds for use in my rich and creamy broccoli-cheese soup. Consequently, I looked for some lighter fare to make up for the abundance of fats lurking in my planned soup.

The search was brief. Across the aisle, I spotted a sign.

“Leeks – $2.38 for 3”

Another bargain! Usually, leeks run almost that much for one. I snatched up three beauties. There would be enough to substitute fresh leeks for the onions in my soup, as well as enough for another main course.

As I paid for my veggies, I completed a mental inventory of my freezer. Cod loins were abundant within.

Why not steam some cod loins over a bed of fresh vegetables? I already had celery and green onions. All I needed to do was to pour in a little white wine and add some rustic thyme flavors.

The version below makes a generous portion for four. For a larger group, just scale up the recipe.

Here we go!

4 6-8 ounce cod loins

1 large leek, coarsely chopped

5 large green onions, halved and then chopped

1 stalk celery, small dice

½ C dry white wine

6 6-inch sprigs of fresh thyme

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat an oven to 400F. Sprinkle the fish with a bit of salt and pepper on all sides. Carefully clean the mud from the leeks before chopping. Spray a bit of olive oil into a (covered) oven-safe casserole (approx. 1 1/2 qt). Pour all of the vegetables into the bottom of the pan. Strip two of the thyme sprigs of their leaves and stir them into the vegetables. Add the wine and season with salt and pepper. Lay the cod loins on top of the vegetables. Before covering, nestle a sprig of thyme under each fish portion. Cover tightly and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. This goes well with a rustic pilaf and almost any vegetable side dish.

Shameless Plug: Lebanon Valley Spice Blends

In Recipies, Shameless plug on January 14, 2013 at 3:57 pm

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I seldom purchase pre-mixed herb blends now that I have a continually producing herb garden. And Phyne Dyning rarely shows much enthusiasm for grocery store spice blends. They’re often over-laden with garlic or onion powder and typically contain way too much salt. The blends often arise from the vendor mixing odd lots of old spices. Some of them add monosodium glutamate (MSG) to compensate for the resulting loss of spice flavor.

Penzey’s Spice Company offers up some great spice blends that cooks can use as-is or they can add a bit more of a spice to get a particular flavor the desire. I usually keep some of their Krakow Nights or Tsardust Memories on hand. Both blends are excellent in Polish, Czech, or Russian entrees.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon Lebanon Valley’s blended offerings. Our area has a significant Bosnian population and there is a growing Iraqi presence as well. Both groups brought much-needed flavor diversity to a town where ketchup is thought of as a seasoning.

Our mass food retailers have taken note of the emerging flavor trends and nearly all of them offer Arabic, Bosnian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Burmese ingredients.

One morning, I was surveying the selections of Bosnian coffees after I pitched a five-pound can of tahini into my cart, alongside of several packs of Dobrova tea biscuits. There was a display of Lebanon Valley spices and spice blends adjacent to the coffee.

The price was right. Just under four bucks for 6.2 ounces. In fact, that’s a bargain.

I picked out jars of chicken spices, fish spices, beryani blend, and kebseh blend. A few days later, I went back for kabob spices, shwarma blend, and vegetable seasonings.

All are excellent.

The Lebanon Valley chicken spices are a favorite when they get liberally sprinkled over a young hen destined for the crock-pot. Crockery cooking intensifies flavors and six hours of slow cooking has the meat almost falling from the bones. The chicken is carefully removed from the crock and is then spread over hot coals or placed on baking sheets for oven finishing at 400 degrees. Either method gives the meat a great crust.

Look for more Phyne Dyning cooking suggestions, using Lebanon Valley’s spice blends, in the future.

Lebanon Valley spice blends are distributed by Tut’s Foods International of Dearborn, Michigan.

No, I’m not abandoning (libertarian) socialism

In General Information, Intro to Libertarianism on January 11, 2013 at 12:10 pm

“Justin” was getting worried about the direction Phyne Dyning appeared to be headed and took time to send me an email detailing his concerns:

 

“What’s going on? You’ve been promoting libertarian socialism all along and now you’re running anarcho-capitalist material. What gives? It seems a little schizophrenic.”

No, Justin, I’ve not (yet) totally lost my mind. I’m running anarcho-capitalist material for its libertarian content. My preference remains strong for voluntary (libertarian) cooperative economics. I’m putting together a series of essays on libertarian socialism and it will run (hopefully) in the near future. In the meantime, I hope you’ll read the anarcho-capitalist material. There’s a wealth of information in there on self-ownership. If you carefully digest the writings of Rothbard and von Mises, you will see the similarities between libertarian socialism and anarcho-capitalism. That’s not a bad thing.

That said…

I agree with Chomsky when he summarized Von Humbolt on human nature: “Man is born to inquire and create, and when a man or child chooses to inquire or create out of free choice, then he becomes in his own terms an artist rather than a tool of production or a well-trained parrot.” It is my opinion that capitalism creates the fastest highway to creating state and that Rudolf Rocker was 100% correct in his observation that “Democracy with its motto of “equality of all citizens before the law’ and (classical) liberalism with its ‘right of man over his own person’ would both be shipwrecked on the realities of the capitalistic form”.

We have already achieved two of Fourier’s Emancipatory Steps. We have progressed to make serfs out of slaves and then made wage-earners out of serfs. We have yet to turn the proletariat into free men “…by eliminating the commodity character of labor, ending wage-slavery, and bringing commercial, industrial, and financial institutions under democratic control”.

Simon Linguet summarized the problem where (in the ‘free-market’ of anarcho-capitalism) “It is want that drags them to those markets where they await masters who will do them the kindness of buying them. It is want that compels them to go down on their knees to the rich man in order to get from him, permission to enrich him.”

I believe that the capitalists can build a libertarian society. But I don’t think it would endure as well as a libertarian socialist one. Someone always eventually equates quantity of possessions with suitability to rule or control over a scarce resource creates authority over another.

Keep reading, Justin.

Exciting new link!

In General Information on January 11, 2013 at 11:01 am

Several days ago, Phyne Dyning began carrying a synopsis of Murray Rothbard’s writings as published by Dr. Jimmy T. (Gunny) LaBaume. At the top of the Phyne Dyning page, a hotlink has been provided for your convenience. To visit or revisit this libertarian resource, simply click on the link and then select the synopsis of interest. Dr. LaBaume is a seasoned educator and he presents the material concisely and clearly. There are opportunities for reader discussions, either in Phyne Dyning’s reader comments or in comments to LaBaumes home blog, The Flyover Press.

…but when a long train of abuses and usurpations…

In Intro to Libertarianism on January 11, 2013 at 10:37 am

It would be logical to assume if ‘state’ is the answer to mankind’s problems, the former republic of America would be the most perfect union on earth. Forced cooperative economics, licensing of virtually every occupation, and regulation of everything you eat, drink, and use has not yielded even a modicum of improved human condition. Yet, the statist answer is that the state has not gone far enough with its measures or that its endeavors are too often thwarted by wrong-minded individualists who must be brought into line via coercion. It reminds me of an old joke: The police were questioning a thrice-widowed woman about her husband’s mysterious death. Her two previous husbands had died from eating poison mushrooms. “The victim has cuts and contusions all over his head and neck”, intoned the grim investigator. “That’s right.”, said the victim’s wife, “He wouldn’t eat the poison mushrooms.”

DEAR GARETT ROSS: An Open Letter to a Grandson

By Dr. Jimmy T. (Gunny) LaBaume

Dear Ross, I realize that you are much too young to understand all of what I am about to write. But someday soon, you will experience it all for yourself.

I will never forget what joyous days those were when I first saw each of my grandchildren. You, of course, were no exception. But there is a particular reason that I picked you to receive this letter. Something else happened that particular day that I won’t forget—something that put me to thinking.

Somewhere during the course of the (mostly grandparent generated) hullabaloo, your mother (my baby girl) mentioned getting you a social security number while you were still in the hospital. My initial response was, “What did you do that for?” She replied that she “thought she had to.” Since then, I have thought a great deal about your life and the lives of my other grand children and what might lie ahead for all of you and your generation.

Even before you were born, your mother was tended by a government-licensed physician. You were born in a government-licensed hospital where you were tended by government-licensed nurses. And they saw to it that you received a government number—a number that will follow and haunt you for the rest of your life.

Also for the rest of your life, everything you put into your body, be it food or drug, will have been inspected and approved by the government (unless, of course, you grow a tomato in your back yard). During your early years, you will be attended by a government-licensed day care center because your mother can’t stay home with you because she needs to work to help with the oppressive tax burden your family has to bear.

You’ll get your first haircut—from a government-licensed barber.

When you get old enough to start school, you will go to a government-funded school and will be taught by government-licensed teachers who will attempt to indoctrinate you in the dual state religions of atheism and environmentalism. They will teach you to accept the anti-American, international socialist agenda and how to be a “citizen of the world.” But, before they will “allow” you to attend, you will have to have a series of government mandated inoculations.

Remember the pocket knife that your grandmother and I gave you? Well, you won’t be able to take it to school and show it to your friends like I did with the one my grandfather gave me when I was your age. Furthermore, I will predict that, someday in the not so distant future, the government will demand that you “register” the 22-caliber rifle that passed from your great grandfather, through me, to you. Even now, if you were an adult, in order to buy that same rifle you would have to answer a bunch of intrusive questions on a government form and solicit the government’s approval.

I know how much you already like to go fishing and hunting. Do you realize that, when you are only a few years older, you will have to buy a permit from the government to do that—even if it is on your own land?

When you get old enough to get your first paying job, the government will begin what will be a life-long confiscation of a large portion of the fruits of your labor in the form of the federal income tax.

Also, within the truest meaning of “socialism” (which is the ultimate goal of communism), they will force your employer to expropriate “social security” taxes from your earnings. This is a pay-as-you-go Ponzi scheme that is certain to collapse long before you are old enough to receive their purposefully misnamed “benefits.”

But, in spite of it all, you will manage to save enough money to buy your first car—on which you will pay a 6% sales tax on the purchase price. You will have to have a government issued license to operate it. You will have to buy government license plates for it every year. It will have to have government mandated “safety” and “emissions” inspection stickers on the window. It will have to have a seat belt in it and you will have to buy government mandated insurance for it. Forty to sixty cents of every dollar’s worth of gasoline you put in it will be tax. And, on top of all that, you will not be allowed to have an “open container” in it. You won’t own a car. You will own a jailhouse.

Then, when you are 18, you will be forced to register for the draft. You will be told that you should because it is a part of the “social contract.” This is the idea that, just because you were born amongst us (our society), just because you speak our language, you somehow owe us some sort of debt. This is a debt that you will never be able to pay. Even if you give them your very life, you will never get a receipt marked “paid in full.” You will not be told that they have no intention of ever putting the “social contract” into writing. That’s because they know that, if they did, nobody would ever sign it. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was supposed to have ended slavery, but it didn’t. It nationalized it. The state now has the monopoly on trafficking in slaves.

Then one day, you will discover the girl of your dreams and decide that you want to marry her. Well, guess what? You will have to obtain the government’s permission to do that too.

Then you will buy a house, or maybe even a farm—probably through a government-licensed broker with the legal papers being prepared by a government licensed attorney. They will tell you that you “own” the property, but that’s a lie. If you refuse to pay “rent” to the government (ad valorem taxes), they will take it from you at the point of a gun and evict you like any other common tenant. You will be able to use your property in any way you choose—as long as it meets with the government’s approval. You will not be able to build a fence or make an improvement to your property without a government issued permit.

You will also want to begin saving some of your money for a rainy day and investing for your family’s future. You will have very few choices except to do that through a government chartered bank and/or regulated financial institution. Then, should you decide to withdraw some of your savings in an amount larger than designated by the government, you banker will be required to file a report of that activity with the Internal Revenue Service. Should you decide to take the money out of the country, you can, but you will need to file a declaration with the federal government. Failing to file that piece of paper is a crime that is more severely punishable than armed robbery.

Somewhere within this stage of your life you will have children and this perpetual cycle of slavery will begin for another generation.

I hope it never happens, but someday you might discover that what you thought was the girl of your dreams is really one of “those” (with a capital “B”) and you decide to get rid of her. Well again, you will have to beg the government’s permission.

I’ve mentioned taxes, but only a few. Over your lifetime you will pay some 200 different taxes. You will also pay taxes that are “hidden” in the price of the products you buy—paid by the manufacturer and marketers and passed on to you. Add it all up and, over your lifetime, you will have been robbed of some 50% (that’s a full half) of the fruits of your labor—all in the name of the “greater good.” I spoke of slavery. What is the difference between a country where half of the people are slaves and a country where all of the people are half-slave? There is none.

At least these taxes are out in the open and easily identifiable. But, there is a corrupt and deceitful organization that will confiscate even more of your earnings over your lifetime. It goes by the misleading name of the Federal Reserve System. This is misleading because, it is not a branch of the federal government like most people think and the name implies. It is owned by its “member banks” (which belong to wealthy bankers), there is no “reserve” and it is not a “system.” This “system” levies a hidden tax—the most insidious of them all—inflation.

Once you approach the end of your productive life, if you have been hard working (or smart or crooked) enough to have overcome all these obstacles and managed to accumulate a little something, they will take up to 55% of that when you die. They call it “estate tax” but that is only because it sounds better, and therefore is more acceptable to the masses, than “death tax.”

In fact, they won’t even leave you alone in death. You will not be able to say “I want to be buried under that old oak tree over yonder.” Unless you have a special government permit, you will have to be buried in a government-licensed cemetery after your remains are prepared by a government-licensed mortician. I’ll beat that, you say. I’ll be cremated. Well, guess what? Yep, your family will have to have a government license to scatter the ashes.

My good man, every thing you do, every facet of your life, will be controlled by faceless, non-elected bureaucrats and petty tyrants who are accountable to no one. These are people who produce nothing of economic value but live as blood sucking leeches off of those that do—vultures feasting on the rotting carcass of a once great Federal Republic.

Of course, none of this is new. It all began in 1865 with Lincoln’s War of Yankee Aggression, which overthrew the Constitution of 1789. This terrible and unnecessary war brought about the death of the rights of secession and nullification and ended any hope that the citizens would remain sovereign over their own government. It established, by force of arms, that the federal government would be the final judge of the limits of its own powers. Naturally, it has subsequently decided that there are, in fact, no limits to those powers.

Logo of Internal Revenue Service, USALogo of Internal Revenue Service, USA

Then, the final nails were driven into the coffin of our once great Republic in 1913 with the adoption of the income tax, the establishment of the Federal Reserve System and the Seventeenth Amendment. The income tax essentially established that all of the income we earn is the property of the state. The state then decides how much we get to keep for ourselves by setting tax rates. The Federal Reserve System, with its fiat currency, allows for government inflation—the back door tax for which politicians do not have to answer directly. The Seventeenth Amendment established the popular election of senators. Before then, senators were appointed by state legislatures. As a result they were obliged to vote for legislation that was in the best interest of the citizens of their states. They have not been under that obligation since 1913. Now they only have to answer to whoever gives them the biggest campaign contributions.

Subsequent confiscations of our property and usurpations of our God given, (supposedly) Constitutionally guaranteed, rights—Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society,” and the King George Dynasty’s “New World Order,” for example—have only shoved us deeper into the cesspool of international socialism.

So, it’s nothing new. But, together, you and I can fix it. We can start by never, ever letting the idea of liberty die.

Yours for freedom in our lifetimes.