As the inauguration approaches, some chefs are getting generous with their secrets. Behold, it's Riderwood vegetable crab soup, to be served at an inaugural gala hosted by the Delaware, Maryland and New York state societies at a swank hotel in the nation's capital Sunday. The recipe, which won a Judge's Choice Award at the Maryland Seafood Festival, is courtesy of Victor Cirrincione, executive chef for Riderwood, a Maryland-based retirement community.
He shares the ingredients for a family-sized portion: 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, ¼ cup small-diced yellow onions, ½ cup small diced celery, 1 quart crab or chicken stock, ½ cup diced tomatoes, 1½ cups mixed vegetables, fresh or frozen (green beans, corn, peas, carrots), 1 cup small-diced green cabbage, ½ cup small-diced potatoes, 4 ounces crabmeat (claw), 4 ounces crabmeat (lump), 2 tablespoons tomato paste, ¾ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning or to taste, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 bay leaf, ¼ teaspoon ground oregano, ¼ teaspoon ground thyme, 1 teaspoon chopped parsley, 2 dashes Tabasco sauce.
"Peel and small dice all vegetables, melt butter in a four-quart pot over medium heat and saute onions and celery until onions are translucent," the chef says. "Add the rest of the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes. Then add herbs and seasonings, diced tomatoes, stock and tomato paste. Bring to a boil then turn heat down and simmer the soup for an hour. To finish, add the crabmeat and Tabasco to taste, cook gently for 2 minutes, then take off heat. Let stand for five minutes, then serve."
It's not your imagination. the Fox News Channel gets short shrift at White House press conferences. It's all in the numbers.
"The favorite news outlet of conservatives" ranks ninth on the list of press organizations when it comes to posing their questions to President Obama, reports Eric Ostermeier, a University of Minnesota media analyst who counted the number of questions at White House press conferences from 2009 through Monday. Mr. Obama appears most comfortable with the "Big Three" — ABC, CBS and NBC — and The Associated Press.
"As for Fox, these have been relatively lean years in terms of getting the presidential nod at news conferences," Mr. Ostermeier says.
ABC reporters have been the most coddled during Mr. Obama's 36 solo press conferences over time; the president sought them out in 29 of them. CBS reporters made the grade in 28 conferences, followed by the Associated Press with 27, and NBC with 26. Bloomberg News is No. 5 with questions in 20 conferences, followed by Reuters with 17, and The New York Times and CNN each warranting 16.
"Fox was called on in just 14 press conferences," Mr. Ostermeier notes.
As for individual reporters, Mr. Obama called on Chuck Todd of NBC and Jake Tapper — an ABC veteran who switched to CNN last month — the most during his first term, at 23 times each. CBS News' Chip Reid is third with 14, followed by Ben Feller (AP) with 13, Julianna Goldman (Bloomberg) with 11, Ed Henry (CNN/Fox) with nine, Hans Nichols (Bloomberg) and Major Garrett (Fox/CBS) each with seven. See the complete listing here: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/cspg/smartpolitics/
Fox News will be Fox News, in the meantime. The canny network has signed former Ohio congressman Dennis J. Kucinich as a paid contributor on both the Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. Mr. Kucinich, a spirited liberal stalwart during his 16 years in office, will provide analysis and commentary for the network, beginning with "The O'Reilly Factor" on Thursday.
"I've always been impressed with Rep. Kucinich's fearlessness and thoughtfulness about important issues," proclaims Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes. "His willingness to take a stand from his point of view makes him a valuable voice in our country's debate."
The two sides appear to be in cozy harmony.
"Fox News has always provided me with an opportunity to share my perspective with its enormous viewership," Mr. Kucinich notes.
"Obama spent all my change."
— Bumper sticker spotted in Billings, Mont.
"There was less violent crime in this country in the 1950s, before background checks, waiting periods or age limits to buy firearms, and before licensing of gun dealers and the existence of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. So if easy access to guns is a major cause of violence, why was there less violence in those days?" asks Steve Stanek, a research fellow at the Heartland Institute.
"The FBI's Uniform Crime Report shows a rate of 4.0 homicides per 100,000 population in 1955. In 2011, the homicide rate was 20 percent higher at 4.8. And that 2011 rate was the lowest since 1963," Mr. Stanek reasons. "The homicide rates were higher in the 1940s than in the 1950s, and were as high as 10.2 in 1980. So homicide rates have gone up and down with and without gun-control laws. No one knows for sure why violent crimes occur with more or less frequency. But we do know from the long history of crime-rate reporting that swings in violence have occurred irrespective of gun laws."
Mr. Stanek adds, "As criminologist Grant Duwe, author of 'Mass Murder in the United States: A History,' recently told The Associated Press, the number of mass shootings in this country actually peaked — in 1929."
POLL DU JOUR
• 61 percent of Americans say stricter gun-control laws would not reduce the amount of violence in the U.S.; 77 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats agree.
• 48 percent of Americans overall agree with the positions of the National Rifle Association; 72 percent of Republicans and 28 percent of Democrats agree.
• 37 percent overall cite "influences of popular culture" as the primary cause of gun violence; 43 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of Democrats agree.
• 37 percent cite "ways children are raised" as the cause; 43 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats agree.
• 23 percent cite the availability of guns as the cause; 8 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A CNN/Time/ORC poll of 814 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 14 and 15.
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