Sunday, November 30, 2008

Puli Sadam (Tamarind Rice)

The helplessness and a feeling of despair that I was feeling for the last couple of days at the events unfolding in Bombay has been replaced by anger. Anger at the politiicans who walk around with a heavy security that they seem to worry more about their own survival than doing what they are elected for. Madame Gandhi makes her staunch supporter Shivraj Patil resign and hands over the Home Ministry to another equally staunch supporter of herself P.Chidambaram. Like the reshuffling is going to improve anything!! When is she going to resign? The utter disrespect and contempt that the general public is feeling for the politicians both in the ruling party and the opposting party is more than justified.

    Green Earth Recently we have been seeing a lot of squirrels in and around the house scurrying around. Just the other day we saw one come very close to the back door. They are usually very skittish and do not venture that close to human beings though they like to snack on my tomatoes and blue berries. The sightings of black squirrels which is very rare has been increasing. But these observations came to mind only after seeing this article "Where have the Acorns gone" in the newspaper this morning. Looks like the acorns have completely disappeared this year, leaving the squirrels and other creatures depending on them for food to starve. Hopefully the disapperance of the acorns is part of the boom bust cycle and nothing more.


Photobucket

Tamarind Rice has been a favorite of mine from as long as I can remember. The tangy spicy rice was always welcome with some fried vadagamas (Indian chips). This is also a handy dish to carry when travelling because of its ability to keep even when the weather is very hot and humid. The sauce for making the rice is cooked down to remove any moisture. It tastes better and better as it ages. We pack this quiet often when going on road trips. Along with thayir sadam (Curd Rice) makes for perfect travel food. I usually add onions and garlic while making the sauce, which I did not do here. This particular batch was made for the temple and I remember a friend mentioning that onions and garlic should not be added to the food offered at the temple. To explain further this food is not offered to the gods but for people who want to buy food to eat when they visit the temple. I do not particularly subscribe to this belief but wanted to respect the others who do. The dish did not miss the absence of onions and garlic. The next time I make it I am not going to add them either.

    Recipe for 3 Cups of Rice
    Ingredients
    1. 3 Cups Basmati rice cooked with sesame oil and a few pinches of salt.
    Spread the rice to cool on a platter
    2. Tamarind pulp from a lemon sized ball of tamarind
    3. Seasonings: Curry leaves,asfoetida, mustard
    3b. 2 tsp each of Chana dal and urad dal and 1 heaped tbsp of roasted peanuts
    4. 3 tsp of turmeric powder
    5. 1/2 tbsp Sesame oil
    6. Salt to taste
    7. 3 tsp canola oil (use sesame oil if preferred)



    For the Spice Powder

    1. 1 1/2 tbsp Chana Dal (Kadalai Paruppu)
    2. 3/4 tbsp urad dal
    3. 6 red chillies
    4. 1/2 tsp methi seeds
    5. 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
    6. a few pepper corns
    Roast the above and blend to a powder (I made it slightly coarse, a fine powder is ok as well)

    Method
    1. In a wide mouthed kadai heat the canola oil and when hot add the chana and urad dal and let them brown, add the asfoetida, mustard seeds and curry leaves.
    2. When the mustard starts to pop add the peanuts and saute for a minute.
    3. Now add the tamarind pulp with a bit of water, liquid should be about a cup and half
    4. Add the turmeric powder to the liquid. Continue to boil till the raw smell leaves and the tamarind starts to thicken. Add salt.
    5. Now add the spice powder and continue to reduce till no moisture is left.
    6. **The sesame oil can be added at this point and cooked for a minute or more. (optional)
    7. Let the savce cool for a while
    8. Add the sauce to the cooked and cooled rice, mix gently so as to not break the rice.
    9. Now heat the sesame oil slightly and pour over the rice and mix.

    ** I follow this method when preparing the sauce ahead of time. If adding sauce to cooked rice immediately this step can be skipped.


    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    Two Chickpeas White and Black and Two Curries

    Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

    The food I cook everyday in the kitchen does not closely resemble the food I grew up with. The basic methods and techniques are the same but a lot has changed. Back home elaborate gravies with vegetables or beans was not an every day thing. In fact it was rare. The masala grinding was done for chicken/goat or fish dishes and these were weekend affairs for the most part.

    Most of the dishes made everyday were lentils or dal based. In detail in this post.

    The gravies that I prepare today make use of onion,ginger and garlic for the basic gravy and the addition of tomatoes or coconuts or tamarind pulp. This is a technique I have acquired trying to create gravies that were enjoyed on visits to restaurants. This method of gravy preparation is common it seems to North Indian cooking were blended onion is used as a base for a lot of gravies and curries.

    For me it all started with learning to cook Channa Masala. I first started making this dish blending onions to a paste along with ginger, garlic paste and perfecting the "bhoona". It took forever to brown the onions and see the oil leave the sides. I tried chopping the onions fine and sauteing them, this cooked much faster but the onions bit could be noticed and the chickpeas and onions stood out separately like they had a quarrel. Finally the technique that best works is to chop the onions,garlic and ginger in the food processor and use a pressure cooker. This method works the best and it is a real time saver. We could add energy saver to the list by all means. Once I learnt to cook a decent Channa Masala I moved on to trying more exotic gravies.

    Photobucket
    Purple cabbage

    The first of the gravies here is the traditional Channa Masala with white chick peas. The second is a gravy with black channa but using cabbage to create the gravy. This technique I learned from my cousin. His mom, my aunt uses this technique to generate gravy for dry kheema mutton. This is a brilliant idea for making side dishes when you are not looking forward to blending and frying and the whole bit. A super duper way to use up that last piece of cabbage lying around in the fridge.

    Channa Masala


    Photobucket



    Serves: 4
    Ingredients
    1. 2 Cups of soaked White Chick Peas cooked in a pressure cooker for 2 sounds
    2. 1/2 - 3/4 onion chopped in a food processor
    3. 4 garlic and an inch piece of ginger chopped in a food processor (if desired add
    green chilies to the mix)
    4. 1/2 tbsp chilli powder
    5. 2 tsp coriander powder 1/2 tsp cumin powder
    6. 1 tsp amchur powder or 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
    7. 1 1/2 large tomatoes run through the food processor to be mashed completely
    8. coriander leaves for garnish
    9. 2 -3 tsp oil
    10. salt to taste
    11. curry leaves and mustard seeds for seasoning

    Method
    1. In a pressure cooker add oil and when hot, add the seasonings.
    2. Add the chopped onion and saute till they become brown and the raw smell is completely gone.
    3. Add the chopped ginger and garlic and saute for a few seconds
    4. Add all the powders but the amchur and saute for another second
    5. Now add the tomato and let it come to a boil.
    6. Now add the cooked chickpeas and 3/4th of the coriander leaves and give a good mix.
    7. Add the amchur powder and if required 1/2 cup of water and cook for 1 sound or about 6 minutes. Turn off the heat
    8. Garnish with the coriander leaves on top.




    Black Channa with Cabbage

    Photobucket

    This gravy can be made with or without the optional ingredients. The milder taste from leaving out the powders is delightful in itself.



    Serves: 4
    Ingredients
    1. 2 Cups of soaked black chickpeas
    2. 1/4 onion chopped fine (optional)
    3. 3-4 green chilies chopped and a handful of coriander leaves
    4. 2 cups of chopped purple cabbage (green will work fine as well)
    5. mustard,cumin, fennel seeds and curry leaves for seasoning
    6. 1 tsp of oil
    7. 1/2 tbsp curry powder/paste or roasted coriander,cumin and a bit of clove and cinnamon (optional)
    8. 1/2 tbsp tomato paste (optional)
    9. salt to taste

    Method
    1. In a pressure cooker heat oil and add the seasonings and saute the onions if using and the green chillies and coriander leaves.
    2. Add the cabbage and saute them for about 4-5 minutes
    3. Now add the curry powder and mix, add in the tomato paste.
    4. Mix in the soaked channa and let it cook for 6-8 minutes.
    5. Add salt and about 2 cups of water and pressure cook for 2-3 sounds.



    Serve with rice or chapatis.

    This I realize could be an entry to Susan's My Legume Affair
    at briciole by Simona who hosts the fifth helping of the event.

    Saturday, November 22, 2008

    Kollu Rasam II (Horsegram Soup)

    The auto industry today reminds me of what the computer programmers were going through in the late 90s when new technologies were leaving COBOL programmers behind. Retooling was in order and everybody took responsibility and moved on. As I recall there was no government bailout.

    When the Asian car manufacturers were coming up with smaller, sleeker, energy efficient and cheaper models, Detroit was still churning gas guzzling SUVs. I still remember a decade and half ago people had twitches of conscience buying a Japanese model not anymore, things have turned 180 degrees it would be unpatriotic to buy yourself a Detroit behemoth now. The day GM released its new Hummer model with much fanfare was the same time Toyota Prius had a huge waiting list. What exactly were they thinking?

    Like the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says how these companies have devised a perfect system where they keep all the profits and we the public - the tax payer is left holding the bag. It is a very informative show on Credit and Credibility. Do watch if you find time

    With the chill going on everywhere a nice warming cup of rasam to chase away the colds and gloom was in order. Down home remedies to keep the cold at bay and also a perfect meal on a cold windy day. If you are not in a mood to cook horse gram but ok with roasting it a bit for a quick rasam, this recipe is the one.

    Photobucket


    Serves: 4

    Ingredients
    1. 1 1/2 tbsp horse gram
    2. 2 tsp coriander seeds
    3. 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
    4. 1-2 tsp pepper corn (reduce pepper if adding red chilies)
    5. 1/2 red chili
    6. a bit of red onion or small onion smashed and chopped roughly
    7. 3 garlic cloves smashed and chopped rougly
    8. 1/2 tomato chopped
    9. seasonings: hing, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves
    10. coriander leaves for garnish
    11. 1/4 cup worth of tamarind pulp from about a small chery tomato sized
    12. salt to taste

    Method
    1. Toast the horse gram till it starts to splutter, set aside
    2. Toast the coriander, cumin, peppercorn and red chili and cool
    3. Now powder the toasted ingredients to a slightly coarse powder
    4. In a pan heat a bit of ghee, add the seasonings and when the mustard starts to splutter add the onions and saute till translucent
    5. add the garlic and saute followed by the tomatoes till they become soft
    6. Now add the powdered horsegram and mix well.
    7. Add the tamarind pulp with about 3 cups of water.
    8. Let it come to a boil. Add salt, garnish with coriander leaves.

    Serve as a soup or with rice.



    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Simple Lunches - 15 (Mushroom Raita)

    Is it only me or has it gotten colder a lot earlier this year? We saw flurries in the evening and snow was expected overnight but none came. The kids were disappointed but I am happy the white stuff did not make its presence felt yet. Some folks like the change in season, I for one would be happy with just one, the hot summer season. The heat does not bother as much as the cold does. Well anyway winter has not astronomically started yet and I am moaning already.

    One thing winter invariably does is make you crave for sumptuous food. Chapatis, aloo gobhi, aloo paratha would all fall into that category but these are dishes that not too long ago, were considered restaurant fare and to a certain extent exotic food. Cooking these dishes did not come naturally nor did they fit in neatly with the menu of the day. Chapatis were always accompanied by a watery gravy and aloo gobhi would have been considered too dry for a side. This all changed when I started cooking for myself, aloo gobhi, aloo parantha all make their appearance once a week and are considered down home food. The only thing I make sure is to have a raita of some kind to substitute for the watery kurma/gravy of childhood.

    Anita's Sookhi Aloo Gobhi with chapatis and a mushroom raita on the side makes for a complete meal enjoyed by all. We used to visit a hole in the wall place, infact a very dirty dhaba place for their samosas and this aloo gobhi. The food was tasty and for Indian food very very reasonably priced but cleanliness was a BIG problem. There was always a big queue waiting to buy samosas and the rotis, parathas, naans were all cooked right before our eyes and my consolation was they were made fresh so can't be all bad. Eventually their Food Service License was suspended and place was shuttered for rat and roach infestation. Did not surprise me though I have wondered often why the guy (a respected ex-professor) could not keep the place clean. But no worries there, once armed with this recipe I no longer miss the hole in the wall place anymore.

    Photobucket



    Mushroom Raita
    Ingredients
    1. 2 packs Baby Bella mushrooms washed and sliced
    2. 1 1/2 tsp sambhar powder
    3. Salt to taste
    4. 1 1/2 Cups Yogurt
    Method
    1. In a wok heat oil and add the sliced mushrooms
    2.The mushrooms will shed water, add salt and on high continue to cook till the water evaporates.
    3. Add the sambhar powder and saute for a minute.
    4. Cool completely and add to the yogurt.



    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    Stir Fried Bell Pepper and Cabbage with Black Eyed Peas

    I need HELP! I am starting to crave idlis. Idli rice is out of the stores and trying to make batter with the other types of rice available has not yeilded good results. It is not like idli rice was always avaialable, it is only in the last 5-6 years they became common place and ofcourse not anymore. I have used other types of rice that work but I am not able to recall the kind of rice and in what proportion to use to get some nice fluffy idlis. If a combination works for you please do leave a comment. I have tried long grain rice, parboiled rice with no luck and the batter is not good even for dosais unless mixed with ragi flour or wheat flour.

    I brought home couple of red bell pepper hoping to make bell pepper coconut chutney but never got around to it. There was also a half purple cabbage left over after a stir fry. Both had to be used. I forgot to soak black beans overnight so decided to use black eyed peas instead which requires just about an hour or less of soaking. I used Patak's Curry paste with cumin and tomato which was left over from a previous trip. If not using curry paste use any curry powder with a bit of tomato paste.

    Photobucket


    Serves: 4

    Ingredients
    1. 2 Bell Pepper cored seeds removed and chopped
    2. 1/2 Purple cabbage
    3. 1 cup Black eyed peas soaked for an hour and cooked
    4. 1/2 Red Onion chopped
    5. 1/2 tbsp curry paste or 1/2 tbsp curry powder and 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
    6. seasonings: Curry leaves, mustard and cumin seeds

    Method
    1. Heat oil in a pan add curry leaves and mustard and cumin.
    2. Add the onions and saute till translucent
    3. now add the bell pepper and saute till they become shiny
    4. Now add the cabbages and saute for a minute or two
    5. Add the curry paste and mix
    6. Add the cooked peas and mix and let it cook till the cabbage become soft.
    Serve with rice or with chapatis.

    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    A Snack ... Spicy Stir Fried Chapatis

    Snacks not the store bought kind but the ones that home cooks create in kitchens everyday are the ones whose taste linger in your mouths for days to come. When kids get home in the evening, they are hungry and after a packed or school lunch you are anxious to give them something nutritious and at the same time offer something that is not boring. Lets take for example Idli and tasty coconut chutney, though considered as a great breakfast dish, might not be looked at with relish as a evening snack. Same goes for dosai/sambhar or chapathi kurma. All of these dishes might be perfect meal dishes by themselves but not popular as snack items like say Maggie Instant Noodle. Though easy and is a hit everytime I feel guilty offering Maggie Noodles everyday.

    So consider this, there is bunch of idlies left over from breakfast or there are chappathis from the lunch. From this dilemma is I bet how Idli upma was born. But don't quote me on the historical accuracy of that. I was in a similar dilemma a few days ago, the roasted veggies had been offered once too often and so was the egg omelet. What I had in abundance were chapatis. Hence was born this new chapati creation, not so new perhaps, has been around the blogsphere in various avatars like this Chilly Crepe at Spicyana. By the way Archana how have you been? So decided to use the leftover chaptis, a few eggs and come with up with stir fried chapatis. Needless to say it was a well enjoyed snack and one that would be made often.

    Photobucket



    Serves : 2 hungry kids
    Ingredients
    1. 3-4 chapatis torn up roughly into bite sized pieces
    2. 2 eggs
    3. 1/2 onion chopped roughly
    4. 1 small tomato chopped fine
    5. 3 garlic chopped
    6. 1/4 inch piece ginger grated
    7. 1-2 tsp chilli garlic sauce
    8. 1-2 tsp masala chili sauce
    9. coriander leaves for garnish
    10. 1-2 tsp oil

    Method
    1. In a pan heat oil, add the onions and saute till translucent
    2. add the garlic and ginger and saute for a few minutes
    3. now add the tomatoes and saute till they get soft
    4. Add the sauces and mix well.
    5. Now add the chaptis and heat them through.
    6. Now add the eggs and saute till the eggs are coated.

    Serve hot.


    Though the chapatis by themselves tasted great prepared this way, the addition of eggs added a new dimension to the taste.

    Sunday, November 9, 2008

    Pasta with Marinara Sauce

    Pasta that common ubiquitous food is not so common in our house. The most important reason being the pasta sauce and the texture of the pasta itself. The family though loves pasta so occasionally I would pick up a jar of pasta sauce from the grocery store but the amount of sodium gave me pause. Sometimes I would pick some "authentic" pasta sauces from World Market with a "Made in Italy" giving me the only reason to pick them up. So the quest for a good tasting pasta sauce continued till recently.

    A few months ago caught an episode of America's Test Kitchen on PBS and saw this amazingly simple Marinara Sauce. This is so simple to make and tastes so fresh and light. Cooking pasta sauce at home also gives control over the fat besides the sodium that goes in. I am not for a minute suggesting this is an authentic pasta sauce or pasta by any means. This is spiced up to suit our taste buds. I am not fond of oregano so I left it out.

    Green Earth
    What is Clean Coal?
    How can coal which is inherently polluting be associated with clean? The way politicians talk about clean coal you would think it is brand new thing compared to the dirty coal that we all know about. Clean coal refers to the technology that would reduce the impact on the environment and improve its efficiency. To me it looks like a clever tactic to wrap dirty coal in a shining new wrapper with the name clean slapped on it but what do I know. Politicians are now fond of citing clean coal as the best thing to get them out of dependence on foriegn oil.

    Environmental groups are up in arms over the term "clean coal" calling it an oxymoron.

    Wouldn't the resources be better spent on truly clean technologies like solar and wind.




    Recipe Source: America's Test Kitchen Marinara Sauce

    Photobucket



    Ingredients
    1. 2 Cans whole Tomatoes in juice
    2. 1 Red Onion chopped fine
    3. 5-6 garlic cloves chopped fine
    4. 2-3 tsp chili powder
    5. kosher salt to taste
    6. 1/4 cup Red wine (I used merlot)
    7. 3/4 tbsp canola oil (Use olive oil if preferred)

    Method
    1. Drain the tomatoes and reserve the juice
    2. Squeeze the drained tomatoes and set aside
    3. In a wide pan add oil and when hot add the onions and saute on medium low heat till they start to turn brown
    4. Add the garlic and saute for a few seconds, do not let them brown.
    5. Now add the tomato solids and let them saute till they start sticking to the bottom and turning brown
    6. Now add the wine and let it simmer for a few minutes
    7. Add the tomato juice and simmer for 10 minutes or so.
    8. Towards the end add the chili powder and salt and cook for a minute.
    9. Add Coooked pasta and toss, let sit in the heat for a few minutes. Turn off the heat, mix and serve with paramesan cheese.

    Friday, November 7, 2008

    Simple Lunches - 14 - Paasi Paruppu - Moong Dal (Simply seasoned Moong Lentils)

    What a difference a few days can make! It was only a few days ago I was reveling in the jubilation of participating in the American Democratic process but today I long for the sights and sound of home.

    I was browsing through Bri's Figs With Bri after reading Bri's husband Marc's moving farewell. I only wish I had known her earlier. She comes across as a warm, vibrant personality, full of life making it all the more hard to accept the news.

    One of the blog posts I came across was Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie through which I landed on this episode Southern India: The Spice of Life. Watching the episode was what bought on the bout of longing for home.

    The other most everyday scene that makes me feel this way is that early morning hour when it is still dark and each house has a newspaper on their driveway. The lights are gently flickering and the sun is just about to peep over the horizon.

    What better way to banish those thoughts, than to cook up simple comfortable everyday food. Food is one connection that is hard to severe. The smells and tastes wafting from these simple dishes almost always succeeds in making everyone happy.


    Photobucket
    Uppu Paruppu (Paasi Paruppu), Vendaikkai Pulikulambu(okra in Tamarind sauce, squash poriyal (Butternut squash Stirfry)


    This is a typical lunch in many a Kongu household. The meal would also include rasam and Yogurt.

    Paasi Paruppu (split moong dal with simple spices)


    Ingredients
    1. 1/2 Cup of Split Moong dal with skin (slightly roasted), toor dal or masoor dal (with 1 1/2 cups of water so the dal is cooked nice and mushy)
    2. 3 green chilies slit
    3. Seasoning: Currly leaves, mustard seeds
    4. 1/2 tsp of ghee

    Method
    1. Pressure cook the moong dal or alternatively use an earthenware pot to cook the dal.
    2. In a pan heat the ghee, add the seasonings, when the mustard seeds splutter add the green chilies and saute for a minute.
    3. Pour the dal (no water is required unless you require it watery).
    4. Add salt and mix, switch the heat off in a minute.

    Serve over rice with dash of ghee and Vendaikkai Pulikulambu and a squash poriyal on the side.


    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Spicy Avarakkai (broadbeans) Curry

    As I sit here watching the election results, several things go through my mind. First of all is the high turnout of voters. The other more serious thought is of the hopes that were raised by the Obama candidacy. The promise of taking the high road and hopes of a better standard in governing. Unlike President Bush who promised to unite and pretty much split the country and pushed it so much to the extreme right. The millions of young people who were inspired to campaign and hope that he will elevate the status of America in the eyes of the world and change the dangerous course America has been taking the last few years. I only wish their hopes and aspirations would be elevated.

    As voters we have done our job, now it is the new President who should do his.

    Visiting the voting place and standing in line (and in my county it is like the UN with people from pretty much all over the world) with all those people who take their duties as a citizen seriously gave me a sense of jubilation much like a highly anticipated party. The number of people I saw there was much larger than the previous few elections I have voted in. The kids were off from school so it was like a holiday almost.

    With overcast skies and rain expected later in the day, called out for something spicy and hot. The curry turned out exactly right.


    Photobucket




    Serves: 4-5
    Ingredients
    1. Avarakkai - 4 cups (stringed and cut in half)
    2. 1/4 cup shallots chopped
    3. 4 -5 garlic sliced
    4. 2 juicy medium sized tomatoes
    5. 1 tbsp tamarind pulp (optional)
    6. 2 tsp turmeric powder
    7. seasoning : mustard, cumin and curry leaves

    To Blend
    1. 10 small onions
    2. 1 tbsp coriander seeds
    3. 1 tsp cumin seeds
    4. 5 red chilies (2 hot and 3 kashmiri chilies)

    In a bit of oil toast the coriander, cumin and chilies remove to blender, saute the onions till brown. Cool and blend to a paste with a little bit of water

    Method
    1. In a pressure pan heat oil and add the seasonings and then the onion and saute till translucent.
    2. Add the garlic and saute a bit and then add the turmeric and mix. Now add the tomatoes and saute till they get soft. Add salt
    3. Now add the beans and saute for a minute or two.
    4. Now add the blended paste and required amount of water (if you want it dry add only 2 -3 tbsp of water)
    5.If adding tamarind add it now and mix (I did not add any because my tomatoes were sour)
    6. Check for salt and close the lid and cook for 1 sound or about 5-6 minutes.
    7. If too watery once the cooker cools open the lid and saute on medium heat for the desired consistency. (I wanted mine with a bit of gravy)

    Alternate Method
    1. If not using pressure cooker, precook the beans with a bit of salt and continue with the method described above.



    Goes well with both rice and rotis. We had ours with rotis.

    Sunday, November 2, 2008

    Feeling LEFT out but ...

    Vote I must and so must you. If you live in one of the safe red or blue states you would understand exactly what I mean. As a safe blue stater and living in one of the most liberal counties in the country the outcome of our voting pattern has been predetermined a long time ago!. This means one thing, Democratic canditates take us for granted and the Republican don't even bother campaigning here. But just across the Potomac river the voters are courted and dated like they are royalty. If you sense a bit of envy maybe thats what I feel. They live in one of the so called battle ground states. So the parade of presidential canditates happens every other day. VA has been slowly trending Democratic with the growth of the high-tech industry in the Northern Virginia suburbs and the Democrats have been hoping they would go Blue in this year's Presidential election. Obama has made more trips these 2 years than I can count while we just a few miles north did not warranty a stop over even a single time :(

    There is a silver lining in all of this, we have not been bombarded with numerous advertisements like these battle ground staters. The few that we have seen I have not paid much attention. DD has been paying more attention and analyzes what each candidate has been saying in their ads. With the sense of fairness only a 10 year old can muster her analysis has been that McCain ads have been very negative without highlighting what positives he has, whereas Obama's have shown what great things he can do/done and is not very negative about the opponent.

    After the intial silence, the last few weeks we have seen a spike with the "Spread the wealth" ads. Obama is supposed to have said this to "Joe the plumber". This particular one has me gritting my teeth as well. Does McCain suggest that it is ok to spread the wealth from the bottom to the top but the other way around is not acceptable? The number of times these rich guys have gone before congress to bail them and their failing industries has been greater than the number of years Bush has been in office. Started with the airlines, the oil industry even though they have declaring record profits quarter after quarter, the Wall Street, now the auto industry and don't forget the subsidies rich farmers have been getting all this time and this entitlement is pretty much untouchable. So the workers at the bottom whose wages have been stagnating while their bosses have been getting richer and richer and not without a big helping hand from the so called evil government cannot and absolutely have wealth spreading from the top to the bottom. This alone would be considered Socialism? Well I don't get it!

    There are many things I don't get about one candidate or the other but there is a clear choice to be made in which direction we want the country to head. The choice is in each of our hands.