Assignment: Branstad Visit to Morningside College

“I love Iowa” was former Iowa governor Terry Branstad’s quote when asked why he was running again. The current Republican candidate for the gubernatorial seat spoke Friday to a packed UPS auditorium on the Morningside College campus.

Branstad focused on a litany of ills that has befallen Iowa in recent years. Stating that unemployment has hit 8.6%, and when he left office that figure was at 2.5%, in addition to the state having a 900 million dollar surplus.

Morningside senior Alex Pacheco referred to his comments as “chicken$hit”, but went on to say that his comments were addressed to a “Private liberal-arts higher-ups group” which “may have explained this.”

Recession still on according to two small business owners. (Final draft)

A resounding “no” was the answer to the question, “Do you consider the recession over?”, posed to two small business owners here in Sioux City.

The Federal Small Business Administration defines a small business as (depending on the type of business) having up to as many as 1,500 employees.  Many small businesses have fewer, and in some cases, many fewer people on the payroll.

According to SCORE, small businesses employ just over half of the country’s private sector workforce, and represent 99.7% of all employer firms (i.e., firms with less than 500 employees).  Small businesses have long been heralded as the ‘engines of the economy’.

That said, two small business owners were interviewed recently about how they feel about the economy today, statements from the government notwithstanding.

Jereme Muller, of local booking agency Comedy Productions responded: “Here we deal with a lot of different businesses and when they call us their budgets are maybe usually half of what they used to be, or their workforce is half of what it used to be, and we’ve had a lot less calls from some of our normal clients.” He relates that half of the comedy clubs that they book for have closed. He goes on: “Last time when the economy was down, people still went out and spent their money, this time they aren’t.”

“Our business is different,” relates Dave Patch of Patch Craft Hobby,”…when the economy is somewhat screwed up, and they don’t want to spend a lot of money to go out . . . say they don’t want to take a hundred dollars to go out to eat for the family, they  may spend a hundred dollars on modeling supplies, but that may last them for four months. The dollar stretches a lot farther in our industry.” When asked about regular customers, Dave continues: “We’re not seeing people as often . . . this recession has drug on longer.”

Whether or not the recovery has or has not begun, or has stumbled, both Dave and Jereme believe that there will be an end, and are working to prepare for it. Muller says: ”It has made us a lot leaner, we have done a lot more marketing, so when the people are ready to buy, we’re still in their face. Rather than wilt and die, we’re trying to fight it and make sure that when it does come back we’re ready to go.“  Dave Patch goes on to say “We’re really looking at all the purchases we make – trying to get the most for every dollar we spend.”


Daily Post / 10-4-10 – Dinner!

This morning, before trying my hand at doing 3 things at once and not mixing the client’s materials up, I started dinner.

Over the weekend, my wife, daughter and I  went to one of the warehouse stores to stock up on some items that we had been running low on.

While there, I went past the meat counter, as I had been successful in picking a rather large roast up, and wanted to see if it was a fluke or if the quality of the meat here was actually not too bad. After a short search, I found one that would be at least two trips to crock-pot land.

So, back to this morning.  I used my very sharp boning knife to divide the roast into two parts, one of which went into the freezer for later.

Putting about a quart of hot water into the crock, I then gently placed the roast fat side up in the water.  Next, I liberally sprinkled granulated beef broth into the hot water, sliced up two medium onions and added those, and then finished up with large amounts of Mrs. Dash and black pepper, flipping the switch to high at the end.

There – dinner’s done.

Well, not exactly.  One of the things that I truly enjoy with roast beef is gravy.  Yep – the American Heart Association Official Condiment (TM). (Not to be confused with the American Heart Association Breakfast – 2 eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast.)

I don’t particularly like the type you find at some restaurants, where it is a light brown, somewhat pasty, opaque gel that is covers everything.  No, I like my gravy just a little transparent, and a dark, savory brown. (I was probably spoiled by my Aunt Helen’s cooking.  She and her husband owned the YoGo Inn in Melvin, Iowa for many years.  Every once in a while we would go to her house for Sunday dinner and this was the type of gravy she made.)

I start by fishing all the caramelized onions from the beef broth in the crock.  Then I add a ladle or three of the broth to the onions in a saucepan.  Next, I heat this over a high heat, to bring it to a rapid boil, taking a moment to add a couple tablespoons of sliced mushrooms and a liberal shaking of pepper.

If I have more time, I add another two cups of broth and mix up some corn starch and cold water to add and thicken the gravy.  Tonight was not a night of a lot of extra time, so I did the next best thing.  Two jars of Heinz Brown Gravy.  This is pretty close to homemade and tastes pretty good as well.

The end result was a nice dark brown savory sauce that was transparent enough that you could see the food through it, but was thick enough to stay where placed and not runaway from the food. A perfect companion to what turned out to be a very tender, not too dry, mouth watering roast.  Coupled with mashed potatoes, rice and noodles on the side, and a perfect glass of fresh brewed iced tea.

Nap time at about 6:30.



Oh, by the way, no posts last week.  Just that kind of week. I’ll try better this week.

The Quest

The search was short.  Today we were tasked to obtain different items and to write about the quest.  Each person had one of several different items to locate through a scavenger hunt.  The item I was assigned was ‘something with a Morningside logo”.

After entering the library, I stopped to talk to my wife (who had just purchased me a delicious, fresh brewed iced tea).  I then asked Nancy and Jackie behind the Spoonholder counter for an item with the required logo.  After a short but frantic search, Jackie produced a homecoming postcard, apologetically stating, “This is the only thing we have.” I then returned to the classroom to regale my WordPress site with the tale of conquest!