May 29, 2008

Absurdity of Current Monetary Policy


In the news yesterday, as I was watching the forex market, I kept hearing that the dollar is strengthening because the bond market is anticipating an interest rate increase from the Fed. The economy is now, apparently, heating up enough that the Fed may want to reign in inflationary pressures by increasing the Federal Funds Rate. From my perspective this is hysterical.

On average, an interest rate cut does not really start to trickle down into the economy for 3-6 months. I want to point out that I understand that mortgage rates move as soon as they anticipate a Fed rate cut or Fed rate increase but you don't see additional home sales for a few months from that time period, so the argument stands that it does in fact take a few months to be felt in the economy.

That said, let's assume that the last rate cut, which occurred in March, takes only 3 months to start to be felt in the economy. Three months from the beginning of March puts us into the beginning of June. When is the Fed supposed to meet again and potentially do these interest rate hikes to curb inflation? Yes that is correct in JUNE. So am I to understand that they dropped interest rates in March because the economy is slowing and "slow growth" is a larger threat than inflation, and are now worried, before the effect of those cuts can ever be felt, that "inflation" is a greater threat than "slow growth"?

Who are these guys kidding? They shouldn't have cut interest rates to bail the banks out in the first place. Of course we are going to have inflation with oil at $129.00 a barrel and food prices soaring. All cutting the rates did was further devalue the dollar and put that much more pressure on oil, thus imports, exports, food, and thus the overall economy. The modest gains we have made in exports, from a weaker dollar are hampered by inflation, considering goods brought in from Asian countries are costing us on average 14.5% more this year than last. Again, oil is to blame. Yesterday DuPont announced an increase in products they supply to manufacturers of 15 to 20%, again oil is to blame.

My point is, if the Fed had it right in march why don't they let their cuts take effect before they begin their "inflationary speak". On the other hand I'm glad they are coming to a reality and realizing that in the current climate inflation is what kills the golden goose not a lack of growth. I just hope that they now start to follow a specific plan instead of running around like a bunch of political chickens with their heads cut off trying to appease people. Inflation fighting, as evidenced from history, is not a hero's work, it is an economists gloomy reality.

May 28, 2008

Italian Sausage Recipe


Sausage at the grocery store is expensive. It costs between 4 and 6 dollars a pound. It is just as easy to make your own sausage, probably is healthier and definitely is much cheaper.

Buy a pork butt, boston butt, or country style pork ribs. These are all the same cut of meat simply cut up into different pieces. I bought country style pork ribs which cost me $1.49 a pound from Albertsons. I bought 5 lbs for $7.45. When you get it home you need to cut out the bones (don't cut out the fat, in sausage the fat is your friend), and cut the pieces of meat up so they are about 2 to 3 inches by 2 to 3 inches (If you want a leaner sausage you can use skinless boneless chicken thighs). Ideally, at this point, you would have a Grinder (hand or electric) but if not grab your food processor throw the meat in and chop it up to a medium grind. Put that in a large mixing bowl and add the following spices:

44 grams of salt (or 2% of the meat weight in grams, if you have 2265 g use 44 grams salt)
18 grams of fennel, coriander, or anise (I like to put these in my mortar and crush them a bit first)
15 grams of granulated garlic
12 grams of Paprika
10-14 grams of black pepper
1/3 cup of vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar, you could also use wine)
1/2 cup sweetner (I used grape juice, again you could use some wine)
1/4 cup olive oil

Mix that all up well, grab a muffin tin, line the tin and smash some of the meat down into each muffin mold. Once you have filled up the tin throw it in the freezer, without covering it, for about 2-4 hours. After that time period you can take it out and throw the little sausage patties in a ziplock or vacuum sealed bag and leave them in the freezer for later use. You can also simply leave the sausage loose without forming it and use it however you want to.

This little recipe ends up costing me about $9.50 all told which, equates to about $1.90 a pound and took me about 15 minutes to prepare including boning and grinding the meat. You could probably skip the boning and grinding by simply buying ground pork at a little higher cost but still far cheaper and healthier than buying store sausage.

Sausage is one of those things you can play with a lot. The only hard and fast rule I've found for me is the salt content being 2% of the meat weight. As far as spices knock yourself out mace, nutmeg, poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, oregano, marjoram, etc. As far as liquids I've used beer, wine, apple cider, vinegars, diet coke, coke, pepsi, honey, apple beer, lemon juice they all seem to work out fine in the end.

Sausage and Lentil Stew

1 lb of Italian sausage (you pick spicy or sweet) (I will also do a sausage recipe)
1 large onion or 2 small onions chopped up
4-6 cloves of garlic chopped up
3 good size pieces of celery chopped up
1Tbsp of olive oil
1 pound lentils
4-6 carrots peeled and cut into bite size chunks
2 cans chopped or crushed tomatoes
2 cans of chicken stock
8 cups of water
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp Basil
1/2 tsp Parsley (dried) or 2 Tbsp's fresh
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Thyme (if you have it)
2-4 tsp of salt (I basically add salt to taste)
1 tsp of fresh cracked pepper, or if you have a pepper mill about 6-8 good turns.
1 Tbsp of Cayenne Pepper if you want it spicy.

For this recipe you are generally going to keep your pan between hot and medium hot. Throw the oil in a hot pan, add the sausage and let cook up, once almost finished and beginning to stick to the bottom add the onions, celery, and Garlic and cook up until the onions are translucent. Add the Carrots and Lentils stir it up with everything then add the tomatoes (I like to blend them up because of my kids) chicken stock and water. Mix everything up well, scraping the bottom and deglazing all of the drippings from the sausage etc. Throw in all of your spices excluding salt and pepper and let it cook up for about an hour to an hour and a half. Add Salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook for at least 15 minutes but as long as you like.

At this point it is done and you can serve it. If you cook it longer the lentils breakdown more and the overall mixture becomes creamier and creamier. If it gets too thick add more water to thin it out. I like serving this with bread but it just as easily goes over some rice or quinoa. Hope you enjoy this recipe. It worked at our house and even my kids ate it, Kaden had a 2nd bowl.

May 26, 2008

Fencing

Our son started fencing this year and has really started enjoying it. It is fun to watch him and when I get more time in the future I would love to join in.






May 17, 2008

Let the Market Sort it out.

I enjoy Reading Greg Mankiw's blog and am grateful he updates it often. I saw this, this evening, and once again was reminded how important it is to not mess with the market.

"With Friends Like This..."

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