Apple Buttered, Panko Crusted Pork Chops

Maybe it’s time for a food post after all the politics and gun slinging? I think so.

Last night, I took a break from my new Insta-Pot electric pressure cooker, I have been WEARING IT OUT! I love it. It was my birthday gift from my mom and it’s been a welcome addition to my kitchen! It pressure cooks, slow cooks, sautes, steams, makes yogurt. I’m not sure there’s anything it won’t do. The only thing I haven’t mastered in it yet is pressure cooking pork. I don’t think I have my timing quite right on it yet. That’s okay, it’ll come.

In the meantime, I had a couple of pork chops that I wanted to make for dinner last night. I had it in my head that I wanted to flavor them with apples and goat cheese. I wanted to stuff them with goat cheese but they were a bit too thin for stuffing. So, I decided to slather them with apple butter which I made myself from the delicious apples from Freedom Farms and canned last fall. Then, I rolled them in panko crumbs and browned them on both sides in a cast iron skillet. Lastly, I baked them at 325 for 30 minutes. They turned out delicious. I served the goat cheese on the side, which actually worked out really well because it was also excellent with the roasted truffle-salted baby potatoes.

The potatoes are super easy as well. Slice baby potatoes in half, spread out on cookie sheet and thoroughly cover with olive oil and sprinkle with truffle sea salt. Roast for 20-22 minutes at 450.

Super easy and super delicious dinner! C’mon, doesn’t this look yummy?

porkchop

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Sine Die 2014

I think I’ve finally recovered from my first Sine Die experience. I spent almost 16 hours at the Georgia Capitol on Thursday and it was quite the experience. I wanted to be there for not only the experience but also to give my support to HB 60. I wanted to be doing something rather than sitting back and spectating from home but I had no idea how I could possibly be useful.

I reached out to Jerry Henry, friend and Executive Director of GeorgiaCarry.Org (GCO) on Wednesday and he encouraged me to come on down and join him and others and assured me that while there’d be some standing around, there was also plenty to do. That’s all I needed to hear.

I got there at 9AM and found my way in and up to the third floor which houses the General Assembly. I immediately found myself speaking to others. Of course, I was wearing my bright orange “Guns Save Lives” button which seemed to be a bit of a beacon to others. Before the session began at 10AM, I had spoken with random strangers, Rep. Alan Powell, GCO lobbyist William Woodall and NRA lobbyist Daniel Carey. I then went into the House Chamber to view from the gallery for a bit and was there for the House Resolution in memory of the father of Rep. Rick Jasperse, who had just passed away a couple of weeks prior. It wrapped up with every single House member and gallery attendant rising in applause. The solitary exception was Kathryn Grant with Moms Demand Action. She was seated right in front of me and she ignored the entire thing. I found this to be completely disrespectful and rude. But not surprising, given their terrible displays of behavior throughout this entire legislative session.

I then met up with fellow GCO members and leadership just a few minutes later and the rest of the day was spent in complete awe of the insane political jockeying and posturing which occurs. I can’t even tell you how many reps we spoke to about HB 60 and helping clear up some of their misunderstandings of the bill. I like to think that may have helped some of them in making their decision on where they stood. It’s amazing that so many of them do not understand current law and proposed law. I understand that they have hundreds of bills to deal with during a session but bills become laws which have the potential to greatly affect our lives and they need to be given the consideration they deserve. This requires knowledge and understanding. I believe that we, as involved constituents, can help provide that.

It was also amazing to see what a playground the House and Senate floors really seem to be. It was like a room full of kindergarteners and the teacher had lost control a good bit of the time. I’d say that less than half of them were actually at their desks at any given time while in session.

Although you often hear that most of the work is done off the floor, this became clear to me, especially in regards to HB 60. Alan Powell took the lead on trying to get us an even better bill than the one the House had in front of them to vote on Thursday morning. I can’t even describe the bouncing back and forth, the games, the detaching and re-attaching of provisions and the behind-the-doors meeting of Speaker Ralston and Lt. Governor Cagle and the posturing and intimidation tactics. Holy crap. I’m tired again just thinking about it.

And, as they say, all’s well that ends well. And it ended well. It came down to the 11th hour (literally, it was 11:20), which was expected, and we stuck around to thank our representatives who worked so hard to get this bill through and make Georgia a safer , freer place for law-abiding citizens.

As for the experience, it was a good one. I think it’s important to realize that our say doesn’t just end at the ballot box. We can do more than sit at home and bitch. We can get out there and influence and support and guide our elected officials, form relationships with them and hold them accountable.

This legislative session has been very informative for me. I’ve grown in experience and knowledge and I’ve found that I enjoy it. A year ago, I’d have never imagined that by this point I’d have testified in front of two committees, found myself in multiple media sources and participated in Sine Die. Previously, I’d only emailed and called my elected officials. It’s been a big step to get involved but I’m glad I’ve jumped in.

And the Votes Are In

The Georgia Senate finally pulled out HB 60 (the new HB 875) for a vote. Those guys are some tricky bastards. They put in an amendment for hunting suppressors, knowing the House will hate that because they are beholden to the Department of Natural Resources and the DNR hates it. Because, you know, poaching is apparently a massive and widespread problem in Georgia. Hmmm.

A second amendment that was added was church opt-in. This one was a “blink and miss it” one that was snuck it by perhaps the quickest “voice vote” in Georgia history. Cagle wanted it that way. This way, it’s nearly impossible to know who voted for it and he can take the heat for it. He doesn’t care, he has no challenger in this election.

The problem with church opt-in is that it’s a pile of crap. Very few churches will make the move to opt-in, preferring to avoid the topic altogether. The Senate knows this, so they think they can pat us on the head and send us on our merry way and then, proud of their “sweeping” gun bill and their “stand for the Second Amendment” in an election year, they will fail to re-address any gun rights for years. Um, no. You see, I already bought a bunch of crap from the legislature LAST session when SB101 died and I’m not in the market for any more.

It seems most likely that HB60 will end up in Conference Committee now, with three senators and three representatives left to make a deal for both chambers to pass through. This is a risk to be sure, as it could very well die in committee but I’m willing to take that risk, as if it does die, then there’s no gun bill this year. People may get voted out. And then we can come back at it next year. Not exactly what I’d like, but I’d prefer it to having a bad bill shoved down my throat with no likely opportunity to come back to it for a long time. And, if we have to re-address it next year, the hope is that we have a new governor (David Pennington, please!) who doesn’t do his damnedest to kill gun bills behind the scenes and some fresh folks in the legislature.

I’m hoping that in conference committee that the house gives on the hunting suppressor language and the senate gives up church opt-in. That would actually be a win-win for the people of Georgia. Most states already allow suppressors for hunting and most states also respect the private property rights of churches. Georgia needs to get with it.

Mrs. Finch Goes to Atlanta (Redux)

It’s been quite a day. I headed back down to the Capitol to again speak in favor of HB 875, this time to the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The hearing turned out to be a dog and pony show since by the time the hearing commenced most of the language in HB 875 was tacked on to HB 60, another gun bill which had already passed both chambers and had passed the House as amended and was on its way to the Senate floor.

You see, as explained and predicted in this Peach Pundit Article, it looks like Jesse Stone is scratching Nathan Deal’s back in order to get that judgeship that he previously denied was on the table. He was so convinced he was about to screw us all with his crappy little substitute bill. Until Alan Powell made an end run around him and refused to let him pull a fast one by cutting him off at the knees. So, now the hot gun bill in GA is now HB 60 and it includes everything HB 875 had except for the $100 civil fine for carrying onto a college campus. We’ll see how it fares on the Senate floor, whether it passes clean or ends up in conference committee. Either way, I’m pleased that Rep. Powell didn’t allow Stone to get away with doing Governor Deal’s dirty work.

If it passes, then we’ll find out if Deal will keep his commitment to sign any pro-gun legislation which crosses his desk or if he’ll just outright renege.

The Committee Hearing was still held, though. It was rather pointless, but it served as a great distraction for the psycho mommies of Moms Demand Action. They were pretty clueless about today’s happenings until long after the fact. And I still testified. I’d worked on my testimony and was pleased with it and I was hopeful that even if one anti there was open to listening that maybe it could make a difference. Although I had to condense it to three minutes due to time constraints imposed, here it is in its full version:

Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Committee Members,

I come before you today first and foremost as a citizen. I am also an NRA certified instructor, leader of a 50 member women’s shooting chapter and a supporter of the right and responsibility to defend oneself. As a woman, I am also part of the fastest growing demographic of gun owners.

I have read this bill in its entirety and you would be right to assume that I am strongly in favor of it. But please do not employ what you know of me thus far to form an opinion regarding the basis for my support. While most consider it a “gun bill,” I’d like to offer another perspective. It’s about much more than guns. It’s about private property and civil rights.

As someone who is active in my church as a Stephen Minister, Sunday School teacher and choir member, I often find myself walking back to my car located in one of the parking lots scattered about downtown Marietta in the dark. Current law prevents me from legally being able to defend myself properly in this situation should the need arise, regardless of my church’s position on the matter. Churches are private property and should be treated as such. No government should be able to grant certain private property rights to one private entity yet deny the same to another. It astounds me that any church official would be against HB 875. Do they not want to make their own choices? If that is the case, then perhaps the state should also mandate what Bible they must use and what sacraments they may perform and how much in tithes they may accept from each member and where they must be directed. I think we all know they would be livid if we were up here debating taking such choices from them. I’ve heard proponents make the argument that HB 875 places a mandate on churches. This fallacy is ignorant at best. HB 875 places absolutely no requirement on any church whatsoever. It simply returns to them the power to make their own choice. This bill empowers them to choose what is right and proper for THEIR congregation. And I can’t speak for anyone else but when I saw church officials standing before the House Committee decrying this bill, I felt a little less respect for them. You see, I am a member of PC(USA) and my church has about 2500 members. I have never been asked to cast a vote on where I stand on HB 875, nor have my fellow church members. So I was quite disappointed to see Rev. Gary Charles of PC(USA) speaking on my behalf because he does not speak for me. He does not speak for anyone in my church. Churches are private property. If church government wishes to make the decision to be a gun-free zone, church government should be responsible for that decision and not be allowed to pass the buck to the government any longer.

Likewise, bars are private property and should also enjoy equal treatment under the law. Granted, I agree that it’s highly irresponsible to mix guns with alcohol but why should I be presumed to be an irresponsible person incapable of possessing my firearm and good judgment simply because I walk into a bar? It’s legal to carry a firearm into any Longhorn restaurant and a person can drink just as much alcohol there as they can at any bar. Seeing as the ability to legally carry into restaurants which serve alcohol has not created mass violations, actually none that I’ve heard, of OCGA 16-11-134 which prohibits the discharge of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs under most circumstances, there is no basis to conclude that allowing legal carry of firearms in bars would create such incidents.

Shifting focus to civil rights, I would like to begin by pointing out that victims are not allowed the opportunity to know when or where they may be victimized. Being one of millions of women who have been victimized at some point in their lives, I’ve had the unfortunate need to defend my life and safety. In 1999 I found myself being chased by my ex-husband through my front yard with an ASP baton like many police carry. There was no help in sight and no one to depend upon to save me but myself. I felt with a complete absence of doubt that my life was in jeopardy at that moment. Thinking quickly, I drew my carry gun at that time from my purse and ordered him to not take another step toward me. That day, I was able to defend myself and deter him from the harm he intended to inflict upon me without firing a single shot. Had I not been properly equipped, I feel very confident in saying that I would not be alive today. I recount this event before you to point out that had I lived in public housing rather than my own private residence at that time, I would have been denied by law the opportunity to defend myself. That is fundamentally wrong. Rights cannot be bought and cannot be denied based upon someone’s socio-economic status. As a private property owner, I have that right to defend myself in my own home. Why should anyone in public housing not enjoy that same right? My life is no more precious than theirs and I am no more worthy of the right to defend myself than are they. We are all equal in God’s eyes and we should all have the legal ability to enjoy the same rights which are endowed to us by our Creator and our Constitution. This is an issue close to my heart. I recently was challenged by someone opposed to HB 875 and was actually asked why, as a “middle class white woman,” did I care about residents in public housing? In addition to finding such a question wholly offensive simply on principle, the fact is my mother grew up in public housing. Public housing residents are not second class citizens. My mother is not a second class citizen. She has experienced both poverty and wealth, neither of which had any effect on the value of her life. I would not want my mother or anyone’s mother to be denied the right to defend themselves because they cannot afford private housing.

In this heated debate over HB875, I’ve seen a great deal of input from other states and I have to ask myself why we have allowed one moment of it. I feel certain that if I were to walk over to my neighbor’s home and proceed to tell him how to run his household I would quickly be asked to leave and mind my own business. Tell New York, Arizona and other states who wish to control what happens in Georgia to mind their own business.

I urge you to represent the interests of Georgia citizens, not out-of-state special interest groups.

I urge you to listen to the voices of your constituents rather than the voices of a few who have no respect for liberty, choice or my right to defend myself.

I urge you to put a stop to the unfair treatment under the law created by our current restrictions

I urge you to serve at the will of your constituents, not at the will of those who may promise political favor in return for serving their personal interests.

I urge you to uphold the Constitutions of The United States and Georgia as you are sworn to do.

And finally, I urge you to recognize that current and further restrictions upon where carry is permitted by law is, at its core, rooted in distrust of the lawful citizenry and, as such, is not in accordance with a free society rooted in liberty.

I implore you to support and favor this bill as-is.

 

The Truth about GA’s HB 875

As many of you know, I lead a local chapter of a women’s shooting organization. Our most recent meeting was an informational presentation of HB 875 which is now in the GA Senate awaiting its committee hearing.

You see, the opponents of this bill have been very untruthful about the contents of this bill. I’m not sure if they haven’t read it or if they’re just outright lying. Regardless, it’s time to set the record straight about what HB 875 does, what it doesn’t do and why it’s important to you if you live in GA.

A friend of mine took my presentation and slide show and has put together a fantastic production. If you haven’t read the bill, I encourage you to do so but the following video explains it in its entirety.

My 15 Minutes

Being a women’s shooting chapter leader, I have found myself in the midst of an incredibly huge and very public movement. Fellow leaders have been subjects of newspaper articles, TV news segments, documentaries, etc. I’ve always avoided any publicity though, preferring to work under the radar. I never sent out a press release for my chapter, never invited any media and never allowed myself to be around any of it. I didn’t really have any deep objection to it but I’ve had some personal circumstances and plans in the works in which I felt it best that any publicity of a controversial nature be avoided. And 2A rights are certainly controversial these days. I think we all know I’m not shy and I don’t mind public speaking when I have my thoughts organized. I don’t mind people in general knowing how I volunteer much of my time. I was just never comfortable with the idea of real publicity.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “You plan and God laughs?” That’s been my experience lately. I was contacted a few weeks ago completely out of the blue by a reporter at the Marietta Daily Journal asking for a quote. The story was supposed to be about a recent attempt of the “knock-out” game. Keeping in mind my “no publicity” stance, I initially wasn’t going to respond. Then I thought, what’s the harm. It’s one quote in a small paper. Small stuff and it would be there and gone, quickly. So, I offered my quote.

And from there, it grew. The reporter then came back and asked me for a photo of myself or of my group. I sent her a photo of my group on the line at the shooting range, from behind. I’m careful to protect the privacy of my ladies. Her editor wanted something different. So they asked me to meet for some photos to be taken. And the reporter couldn’t verify the “knock out” game attempt. So, she asked me more questions. And it just got away from me. Next thing I knew, I was on the front page of the Marietta Daily Journal with an entire article about me. I didn’t even know it was on the front page until a few people in one of my church groups mentioned it. I had not even gotten a copy of the paper.

I was a little mortified. It was way more than I was expecting. I wasn’t mad with the reporter. While she was not quite educated on 2A and gun matters, she wasn’t unfriendly toward them and nothing occurred to which I had objected. Maybe I was a little naive with regards to my expectations but that’s on me. So, I chalked it up to a cool article which would hopefully die down quickly.

But, you see, I have this thing about being opinionated. And being vocal. Which would soon put me on the local news. My House Committee testimony on HB 875 earned me a spot on the evening 11Alive newscast:

I had no idea about this either until a friend messaged me and asked me for my autograph. I guess I should have expected it was a possibility but it just really didn’t occur to me that I would garner any attention other than from those present at the hearing. I was also quoted in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

Three news outlets in less than two weeks. I could hardly believe it. And the first article had nothing to do with the other two appearances. The last two happened to be two news outlets in the same room covering the same story and they both somehow chose to include me.

Craziness.

Of course, in this age of social media and given that HB 875 is a hot potato topic right now, coverage spread. I ended up on others’ personal blogs, Facebook pages, forums, etc. I’ve been recognized by a couple of people I don’t know…someone I bought a vehicle from and a store cashier. Nothing major, but it still felt strange. I don’t know how famous people keep their sanity. Oh, that’s right…they don’t. Nevermind.

I spent some time a little freaked out over the whole thing. I had no reservations whatsoever over my efforts in helping HB 875. It was just that whole media thing.

So when a local FOX reporter most recently contacted me wanting to do a story on me, I declined. I actually tried to pass it on to a fellow chapter leader and friend but she specifically wanted me. Still, I declined. I was overwhelmed and freaking out a little and concerned with how all this publicity may affect my aforementioned personal circumstances.

But, you know what? It doesn’t matter. My husband helped me realize that I need to do what’s important to me and embrace opportunities which help further the causes which are important to me. As far as the publicity and my personal circumstances go, it will be what it will be. Some people will love it and others will hate it and I cannot control that. I can’t worry about it too much. I especially can’t worry too much over something which may or may not even happen regardless of whether I find myself in the public eye over controversial issues such as the Second Amendment and civil rights.

So, I’m choosing to embrace it. I’m not going to be soliciting any media attention (I’m not embracing it THAT much) but I’m not going to work so hard to actively avoid it. Que sera, sera. I will do my thing and be myself and anyone who cannot accept that can just move along. I’ve been concerned with the possibility of not being acceptable as a result of the things which are important to me when I should be more concerned that if someone cannot accept me without judgement of the things which matter to me, then perhaps they are not acceptable to me.

Throwing Kittens Into the Mouths of Coyotes

I am very angry today. Actually, let’s just call it what it is. I’m pissed.

Rep. Sam Moore, who is sitting in a seat in the GA House of Representatives after winning a special election recently, has just introduced a heinous bill under the guise of “liberty” after less than a week on the job. It’s HB 1033 and if you’d like to read the entire bill yourself, you may do so by clicking here.

In short, HB 1033 is summarized on the House site as:

A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Article 2 of Chapter 11 of Title 16 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to offenses against public order, so as to repeal the offense of loitering; to provide that no local governing authority shall adopt an ordinance prohibiting loitering; to provide that under no circumstances shall a citizen be required to identify himself or herself to a law enforcement officer; to amend Chapter 1 of Title 42 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to general provisions relative to penal institutions, so as to repeal certain prohibitions against sexual offenders loitering in certain locations; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes. 

What this means, folks, is that it welcomes child molesters on school property. On daycare center property. On playgrounds. And the police would be prohibited from identifying a sexual predator on such property.

Do you have children? I don’t but I still find this bill an egregious affront to the responsibility that we have to our children as a society. Some disagree with me on this, arguing that it’s a pro-liberty bill and that it’s an effort to roll back the powers of the police in many areas. Bullshit.

Let me repeat that. BULL-SHIT!

Rep. Scot Turner spoke at the well on this bill today and put it quite simply that, “This is not what the fight for liberty looks like.” I am pleased to see that no one signed onto this bill with Moore. What concerns me is that many of my fellow conservatives are not entirely outraged over this bill. Did they not read it? Do they not understand it? Or, do they just not care?

Does liberty mean throwing our children into the laps of sexual predators? Because that’s exactly what this bill does.

My favorite argument for this bill is that not all sexual offenders are sexual predators, so they shouldn’t have to be subjected to the same fates as true sexual predators. And exactly how does this bill solve that problem? I agree that some hormone-driven 18-year-old who has consensual sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend who said she was 16 shouldn’t necessarily be relegated to a lifetime of the consequences brought about by being on the sexual offender registry but I have two comments for that: 1) Choices have consequences and at times, they can be much larger than you thought so it behooves you to think about your choices before you make them and 2) a better solution which wouldn’t put innocent children at unnecessary risk would be to work to change the factors which determine who is added to the sex offender registry and to work toward more appropriate sentences for sexual predators, considering their recidivism rate and the fact that sex crimes are very different from other crimes.

It seems Sam Moore’s idea of liberty is throwing kittens into the mouths of coyotes. He describes himself as a “redneck from Cherokee County.” What a terrible insult to the fine rednecks of Cherokee County, GA. I certainly hope that he doesn’t have, nor does he ever have, children. I truly hope that he has no understanding of the psychology of sexual criminals. Then, at least he’s just horribly irresponsible. If he does have such an understanding, then he is a vile excuse for a human being.

I would suggest that if Sam Moore is so terribly concerned with the fight for liberty and justice, then he needs a new approach. And my suggestion to the folks of Cherokee County, GA is to kick his ass out of office this year. Regardless of whether this bill is a product of irresponsibility or depravity, he’s reckless and dangerous and is a terrible pustule on the butt of the Republican Party.