Be Counted – Vote November 4th & Pork Stew Paprika

Is it really possible that Election Day is here? Well almost here. Presidential hopefuls began invading New Hampshire almost two years ago. Early in the long primary season the parade of candidates seemed endless. Both parties offered up a bunch of guys in blue suits. There was the governor with a whole lot of money. Whatever he spent, he still couldn’t capture our interest or our confidence. There was the senator with a whole lot of good looks and charm. He wasn’t able to charm us into voting for him. Then there was that pastor turned governor who soared high in the polls for a minute or two. After a short time in the limelight he faded from view. Now we can barely remember their names let alone their platforms. Except for Hillary. She wasn’t able to win a spot on the ballot but she sure put a lot of cracks in America’s political glass ceiling. So now, to paraphrase Agatha Christie, now there are two. And soon there will be one.

In my typical American family … I say that having no idea what a typical American family looks like … In my typical American family we have voters of almost every persuasion. We have registered Republicans, confirmed Democrats and several Independents. The Independents all have definite, and different, leanings but take too much pride in their independence to register with a party. Plus if you register as an Independent you have the good luck and fortune to get robocalls from both parties.

This cross section of conservative and liberal views has meant years of lively debate and conversation. Conventional wisdom might suggest we leave any conflicting opinions at the door for the sake of family peace and harmony. But heck, then we would miss all the fun of discussing and dissecting the politicians and political issues. Even when we all agree on an issue or a candidate, we rarely see the need to curb our enthusiasm.

I blame it on my mother. My mother takes elections and voting very seriously and always has. She grew up close to the homes of four Presidents. From the time we were little, we were encouraged to have opinions and not be shy about sharing them. While she does not like to see any of us argue or fight, she loves to see her family engaged in rigorous debate. As soon as we reached our eighteenth birthdays, she insisted that my sister, brother and I register to vote. Her contention, if we wanted to take part in the discussion we had to participate in the process. Not wanting to be left out, I went down to the town hall and registered to vote on my eighteenth birthday. Okay, maybe it was a day or two later.

For many years I lived in Switzerland, but, not wanting to disappoint my mother, I still managed to vote in most major elections. It was sometimes touch and go but I usually sent my absentee ballot back to the States just in time for it to be counted. Many of my expatriate friends gave up on absentee voting. Others had good intentions but tended to forget to request their ballots in time to vote. I always felt quite virtuous (thank you Mom) for voting even though I was an ocean away.

It wasn’t until 2000 that I discovered that no one actually counts the absentee ballots. It seems that these ballots are only counted when the results are so close that they could actually change an election’s outcome. And here I thought the 2000 results were close.

As we head into the final stretch, the candidates are calling the 2008 Presidential race the most important election “in our lifetime” or “in a century or more”. A few years and a little history will let us know if their predictions are correct. For now, well I guess we can all agree that it is indeed the most important election in 2008. Regardless of your political leanings, enjoy the discussion and the debate and don’t forget to vote!

Bon appétit!

Pork Stew Paprika
With polls showing a close race, election night it may be a long one. Invite friends in and spice up the evening with lively conversation and a bubbling stew. Enjoy!
Serves 6

2 slices thick-cut bacon
2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 sweet onions, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon Hungarian hot paprika
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup ground tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup sour cream
1 pound baby spinach
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a Dutch oven or heavy casserole, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until crispy. Remove the bacon and reserve.

Season the pork with salt and pepper and brown in hot bacon fat, working in batches if necessary. Remove the pork from the pan and reserve.

Add the carrots, celery and onions to the casserole and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the paprika and garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes more. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.

Return the pork and bacon to the pan. Stir in the tomato sauce and chicken stock. Add the bay leaves, rosemary and thyme. Bring to a simmer over high heat.

Cover, transfer the casserole to the oven and cook at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened. Stir in the sour cream. Stir in the spinach; check for seasoning. As soon as the spinach has wilted, serve with buttered noodles or rice.

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Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

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Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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