Friday, October 13, 2006

Justice Gets Served (a Krispy Kreme)

So the testimony ended, the summations were given, and we were sent to a small room to deliberate.

Justice was at hand.

The bailiff led us into the room and locked the door. Along with the usual instructions, he told us where we could find a nearby Starbucks and Krispy Kreme (doughnuts) during our break. Was this a veiled request for a bribe? No Krispy Kreme, no opening jury room door? Already reduced to bribing the guards? Our only consolation was that our tiny jury deliberation room had two bathrooms. Just for us (hopefully with fans!).

I had wondered about the fact that every court room, all 50 of them, had an armed sheriff sitting in the room as bailiff. The duties seemed nominal. Let witnesses into the court room, announce that the judge was entering or leaving the room, chat on the phone occasionally. Seemed like a sweet assignment, compared to walking the streets in the immediate neighborhood.

But when we got a chance to talk with our bailiff a little, it seems the job can be a lot more stressful.

Apparently, on a frequent basis, witnesses and defendants jump over the tables and try to attack someone. Maybe they think the person is lying, or they get upset that they will be found guilty. So they try to take justice into their own hands, so to speak. The bailiff has a second or two to try to intervene. Along with a gun.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending who’s perspective, our case did not generate such emotions.

But the case next door to us – a child molester, victim 4 years old, 600 counts, including videos he took of himself with the child in the act – might have gotten a lot of people upset. The families of the victims were there, the TV news was there with their cameras and sleek suited reporters. That trial ended as the accused agreed to all charges (50 years prison, no parole). But I could see people in that one needing some restraint.

All in all, this trial and jury business got me thinking about a few things. You get 12 more or less random people, present some information to them, and then let them express their opinions. Seems like a recipe for chaotic disaster.

In the end, most people on our jury exhibited an impressive degree of reasonableness. More than I would have expected.

It reminded me of how I sometimes feel about driving through traffic.

There, you also have a lot of random people, only instead of passing judgment on others, they are steering thousands of pounds of fast moving metal right next to each other. An unreasonable person could cause a lot of destruction. And yes, sometimes cars collide. And terrible things can happen. But not nearly as often as you might expect. And considering the number of people involved, and the literally millions of opportunities for something to happen, people in general seem to exhibit a lot more reasoned behavior than I usually give them credit for. What a cynic I am!

Just like this trial. An unreasonable person could have easily disrupted the entire procedure. And I am sure that happens in some trials. But apparently a lot less often that I would have guessed.

So we delivered our verdict. And were thanked and dismissed. And the little dispute we sat judgment on came to an end. And though some on the jury apparently had trouble sleeping last night, I didn’t.

And yes, the bailiff got his Krispy Kreme (like he needed it!!)!

Along the way, as I had limited time in the evenings, I whipped up a variation on a dish we make frequently. Usually, this is a pasta ‘sauce’ made of sausage and greens cooked in some broth and served over penne pasta. The greens are usually kale, chard, and beet greens. I start with a huge amount, as they cook down to nothing. This is an all time favorite. Quick to make, the greens take on a nice flavor from the spicy sausage, and the steaming brothy presentation moves it in the direction of comfort food.

I usually make my own sausage for this. Which is very easy to do. The sausage being ground turkey or chicken, and a mixture of spices, along with grated parmesan and parsley. It turns out surprisingly tasty. This is doubly easy to do as I use a loose sausage for this recipe, not one in a casing. All I have to do is mix everything up a few hours before cooking, and let it sit, chilled, so the flavors can develop. Presto, sausage!

For today’s variation, we are back to whole grains. Instead of penne pasta, which, of course, is based on white semolina flour, we used unhulled red jasmine rice. And ladled the ‘sauce’ over the red rice.

Now, I like the red rice a lot. I have blogged on this before. And I like the variation on the usual, trading the pasta for the red rice. And I know it is healthier that way. But I hope the whole grain phase around here wanes a bit to the point where we can slide a white pasta in there now and again!

Greens And Sausage on Red Rice
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4

4 pounds fresh spicy sausage (recipe follows), casing removed
4 large bunches various greens (we use 2 bunches kale, one bunch chard, and the greens from about 6 to 8 beets), washed well, and chopped into large strips, stalks included
olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
8 cups chicken broth
salt, pepper
4-6 cups steamed red rice
Fresh ground pepper, if desired
Grated parmesan for garnish, if desired

In a very large soup pot, brown the sausage in olive oil over high heat, stirring frequently to break up the clumps. As the sausage browns and is no longer pink, remove it to a bowl and reserve, leaving the sausage drippings in the pot.

Heat the sausage drippings over medium high heat. Add a little additional olive oil if necessary. Begin adding the chopped greens, tossing lightly to coat in oil. As the greens cook down and room permits, continue adding until all greens are in pot and tossed in oil. Cover and let cook down, stirring occasionally, until there is room to add the sausage to the pot. Add the sausage, the chicken broth, and the garlic. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, and reduce heat. Simmer for a few minutes.

Scoop some red rice into the center of four flat soup bowls. Ladle some of the greens and sausage sauce around the rice. Top each bowl with some fresh ground pepper and grated parmesan, if desired. Serve. Enjoy!

Fresh Turkey or Chicken Sausage, Spicy Italian Style
Recipe by surfindaave
Makes about 4 pounds

Note – you can make this sausage as hot or mild as you like, all measurements should be viewed as guidelines only

4 pounds fresh ground turkey or chicken
2-3 tbsp fennel seeds, freshly ground (or smash them fine with a hammer, as we do)
1-2 cups grated parmesan cheese
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1-3 tbsp red pepper flakes (some like it hot! Use less if you like mild!)
2-3 tbsp salt

Combine all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl (I use my hands). Let sit for a few hours, chilled.

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Anonymous Lynn D. said...

Try Bionaturae whole duram wheat organic pasta. It's organic, from Tuscany and I actually prefer it with some sauces, especially spicy ones. I get it at my local health food store.

8:49 AM  
Blogger surfindaave said...

Now thats an interesting idea as well. I have never seen whole grain duram pasta, but we could certainly look!

2:10 PM  

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