I spent my Thanksgiving break as promised, doing not much other than some light cooking, some heavy eating, and burying my nose in some books I had on my to-read list. Football was on almost non-stop, and pants were considered, like, so overrated. I blew through Hacks by Donna Brazile. I found it fascinating. I have thoughts about it. Which I will get to.
But as a precursor, it confirmed so many nagging thoughts and suspicions I’d had about the 2016 election, well before the primaries were really even underway. Disclaimer: I voted for Hillary Clinton in the general (and I live in New Jersey, a state that got the primaries so late in the game they were already decided by then, insert eyeroll), and were I somehow to accidentally time-travel back to November 2016, I’d vote for her again without a second thought. That being said…
Though I desperately wanted her to beat Donald Trump, because well, Donald Trump, the entire election cycle had me unable to shake a dark underlying suspicion that she wouldn’t win. Why? Because she’s what I’ve come to call a My Turn Candidate. And My Turn Candidates almost never win. This goes for both parties! I’m not picking on either. Or I’m picking on both of them equally, whichever. But anyways – a My Turn Candidate is someone who seems to feel they have earned the nomination because they have paid their dues and waited their turn. They always have a ton of government experience, they’re already a household name, have already gotten their fair share of media attention, usually including a nice scandal or two, and have been active enough in politics for a long enough time to have pissed a lot of people off, sometimes even justifiably. John McCain. John Kerry. Al Gore. Bob Dole. You get it.
It happens on the state level too. My own state of NJ just had a governor’s election this month. We have term limits, so Chris Christie couldn’t run again (let us pause and praise ALL the deities) – thus, an open election with no incumbents, and both the Republicans and Democrats of NJ could pretty much do whatever they wanted. And I think we can all agree that both sides always want to win, right? Both sides sincerely believe they are right and the other side is wrong, and they both want to win and stay in power. So who do the NJ Republicans put up? Kim Guadagno. WTF? For those unfamiliar, Kim Guadagno was Chris Christie’s lieutenant governor. Chris Christie, who holds the honor of being the least popular governor in all of America, and believe me when I say, New Jerseyans are beyond sick of his ass. His approval ratings aren’t even in the toilet anymore. The toilet has been flushed my friends, and Chris Christie’s approval ratings are floating around in the sewage system with all the human excrement and other disgusting muck.
If you are NJ Republicans and want to keep the governor’s seat, WHY WHY WHY would you run Kim Guadagno? It makes no sense, other than… it was Her Turn. I have no doubt she has wanted to be governor for a long time. I have no doubt she’s incredibly ambitious, and has worked her ass off and more than paid her dues. Objectively speaking, her resume more than qualifies her. I begrudge her none of this. But this isn’t a promotion, it’s an election! Parties must be realistic, and really, who thought she could win? Rightly or not, she has the stank of Christie dripping all over her. Her opponent wasted no time in dubbing her “Christie’s Third Term” – and people please, surely she and the Repubs expected that one, it was just too easy. As predicted, Democratic candidate Phil Murphy absolutely trounced her. It sort of seemed like the Republicans didn’t even try to win.
And yes, Hillary Clinton was also a My Turn Candidate. Fair or not (and some of it was unfair), she had so much working against her. Getting her into the White House was going to be such an uphill climb, and WHY would the Democrats risk that, especially given they didn’t control either branch of Congress, and there were no guarantees of getting either of them back? Wouldn’t you put ALL your energies into finding the best possible, most exciting presidential candidate who can appeal to the highest number of voters and is most likely to win? Well, Hacks sheds some light on some of these nagging questions I’ve had for a while now. Which I will explore on Thursday, seeing as this post has gotten a tad lengthy already.
For now, we have salad, because if you ate as I did over the weekend, you probably feel a desperate need for it too. Originally this salad was written for persimmons and pears, not apples and pears, but I couldn’t find any persimmons (I never can!) so apples subbed in beautifully. Simplicity really shines here, with every forkful being a perfect bite of sweet, spicy, savory, pungent, and crunchy all at once. Highly recommended.
SOURCE: adapted from Dining In by Alison Roman
1 cup pecans
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
1 tbs olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 Bosc pears, cored and thinly sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (I used Valdeon for the first time and OMG it was so amazing)
Combine the pecans, maple syrup, and Aleppo pepper in a medium saucepot over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the maple syrup bubbles, reduces, and crystallizes around the pecans, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the 1 tbs olive oil and remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper, and let cool completely. Coarsely chop.
Scatter or neatly line the pears and apples on a serving plate or platter. Drizzle with the vinegar and some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Finish with the pecans and blue cheese.