A Catholic perspective on the world and all the good things therein, especially books and food. Literature cum chocolate is the order of the day at The Crockery.

Location: A Collegetown, Undisclosed Location, United States

No longer a graduate student, Teresa is now a professional know-it-all.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Now you're cooking with beef heart!

Long time readers of my blog know that I have a habit of picking up mysterious cuts of meat at the grocery store simply because they're cheap, then frantically searching the web to find recipes or directions for cooking said meat. This post is about my experiment with a cut of beef not often found on American tables: beef heart.

Really, people, it's good! It's not gross! It's lean muscle, so it's good for you, and it's tasty. And did I mention that it's cheap? If you can find it, it is likely to be cheaper than ground beef, let alone a roast.

The meat I picked up came already sliced, so it was ready to cook. (Whew! I wouldn't have to prepare the meat from scratch!)

After asking around on the 'net, and googling for recipes, I decided to try panfrying the meat along with mushrooms, as that seemed to be a commonly recommended way of preparing it. I found a basic recipe on, and adapted it to create the recipe below.

1- 1 1/2 pounds sliced raw beef heart
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika (or more, to taste, if you like it spicy)
1 tsp thyme
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2- 1 cup water
1 lb fresh mushrooms

1. Begin by browning the sliced beef heart in a large skillet; choose a skillet that has a lid!
2. In a large ziplock bag or shaking bad, combine flour with salt, pepper, and paprika.
3. When beef is brown, carefully transfer it to the bag. Close bag and shake up contents thoroughly, so that the beef is covered with the flour mixture.
4. Return meat to the skillet. Add garlic, thyme, red wine vinegar, and water- note that it may take more or less water, depending on the amount of meat you have and the size of the skillet.
5. Bring meat to a simmer, stirring often. Cover and allow to simmer for about 40-50 minutes, or until meat is tender, adding water as necessary.
6. Add mushrooms and cook for an additional 15 minutes. (Warning: you may need to cook the mushrooms for longer than this for best results; I was disappointed in how the mushrooms turned out when I made the meal.)

Serve the beef over rice, buttered egg noodles, or mashed potatoes.

I have to stress that I was a bit disappointed in the mushrooms; they just didn't taste good. I might try using a different type of mushroom in the future, or cooking them for longer. The beef, however, was pretty good, and it seemed to go well with the whole wheat egg noodles I used.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Should Professor Myers be fired?

Catholic bloggers and newsources have been informing the Catholic blog-reading public of the doings of Professor P.Z. Myers, who publicly displayed an act of desecration against the Eucharist and a page from the Koran. Most recently, Jimmy Akin has called for Myers' termination, on the grounds that Myers has behaved unethically and disrespectfully, in violation of the university's code of conduct.

I don't think the academy works that way, and I'm not sure that it should. Myers is a tenured faculty member. As such, he can be fired for gross misconduct. But generally speaking, tenured faculty members are fired for misconduct directly related to their work as teachers or scholars. A faculty member might be able to be fired for hate speech taking place in the classroom, or at a university-sponsored event. Sexual harassment of a student would also constitute grounds for dismissal.

But Myers' act of disrespect did not take place at a university-sponsored event, and (so far as I know), it wasn't publicized in his classroom. He publicized the event in his private blog, which doesn't claim to be affiliated with the university.

And that's why I, speaking both as a Catholic scholar and a faculty member at a state-affiliated university, have to answer "no" to the question "Should P.Z. Myers be fired?" When faculty members speak and act as representatives of the university, that's one thing. In those conditions they may indeed be held to high and precise ethical standards. But when faculty members speak as private citizens --or even as public intellectuals in their own right-- that's different.

I feel strongly about this precisely because I know that some of my own views don't accord with the common beliefs of the secular academy. There's a reason why I try to blog anonymously, but I know that my anonymity isn't perfect. If a tenured faculty member at a public institution can be fired for displaying his own anti-religious anxieties on a private blog, how can I be sure that a post explaining my views on _FITB_ subject will not be held up as evidence of my lack of professionalism or respect?

I'm not saying that academic freedom has no limits. If Myers publicly abuses the religious beliefs of his students in a university setting, I agree that he should be fired. If it is true that his desecration of a consecrated host is against the law (based on the idea that the only way to obtain such a thing is through a form of theft), that may also constitute grounds for discipline or dismissal.

But I'm reluctant to say that hate speech uttered in a faculty member's private life is necessarily grounds for dismissal. Tenure exists to protect academic freedom, but it also effectively protects what I can only call jackassitude. We all know that there are jackasses in the academy, and one of the effects of tenure is that it protects them. You can't fire someone just for being a jerk. And, much as it pains me to say this, you shouldn't be able to fire a tenured faculty member just for being a jerk. At many schools, a lack of collegiality may be grounds for denying someone tenure- but once that person is tenured, you can't simply weed him or her out of the department on the grounds of being unlikeable. Allowing such dismissals would open the door to all sorts of quiet discrimination.

Having said that, I have to add that there are other sorts of pressure that can be exerted on someone like Myers who acts as a sort of public intellectual. I hope, for example, that people will think twice before inviting him to speak at public events. I hope that his department puts some informal pressure on him to behave. But I can't get behind the grassroots movement to demand his dismissal. I think that's a mistake.