Saturday, April 27, 2013


The other day, as I was driving to Mandeville, LA from my home in Folsom, a funny, scared and wind blown creature was staring back at me. It was probably wondering what else could go wrong today as the little animal was turning all kinds of colors hoping somehow one of them on its palette would work.

Once I recognized what it was, all I could think of was the phrase, "Stop this world, I wanna get off!"

But it was not to be. The one lane highway was full of traffic moving south at about fifty plus miles per hour. I wasn't sure that if once I pulled over to a gas station, down the road a few miles, it would solve the problem.The little creature could just as easily slide back down between the wiper blades and the hood to hide.

Occasionally, the little guy, ( let's assume it is a male because he never asked for directions! ) once it realized that it was lost, would attempt to take action and stick his head up above the blades. Maybe, he was contemplating a great escape, only to have the wind from my accelerating and decelerating, give him cause to reconsider his options.

Testing the wind...
Laughing at his predicament, I thought what a great shot this situation would make, if only...

Oh wait, I do have my camera with me, for once, when I need it.

This shot below was the best shot of the dozen or so I took. Photographing this little guy, reminded me of the many times I drove the freeways of Los Angeles with one hand on the steering wheel and on hand on the shot button of my Nikon FM. This was back in the day when one hour photo services were an illustrator's saving grace. Time meant so much when it came to meeting one's deadlines. With many car accounts like Saturn, Acura, Toyota, Nissan and all their luxury lines, it seemed like I was always on the freeway, in all kinds of traffic, shooting at all times of the day. That was then...

Will you please stop this moving thing?

... and this is now. And now, I had been on the road for about twenty minutes or so. Watching the dude's facial contortions and body reactions as he continued to check out his options for a safe ride, if not a safe escape, made me wonder just what he was thinking. His face seemed to say to me, as he stared, "I spent the better half of the spring, looking for a place I could call my own... like my own territory. Territory I don't have to fight for or defend and have to do that expanding and threatening neck muscle thing!"
"You know, have your own crib, chillin', invite some of the ladies... maybe, share a porch light dinner with that special one. Hell, maybe even settle down! But no, I had to find out that my little piece of heaven, moves!"

"No wonder no one wanted to challenge me for this turf. Everybody knew, in this hood, it wasn't worth the ground it stood on!"

"Everyone, but me!"

I hate you!

Copyright 2013/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, April 19, 2013

"Traditional Red Beans and Rice with Andouille Sausage... My Recipe!"

Red Beans and Rice with Andouille Sausage...
A couple of days ago I mentioned making New Orleans style red beans and rice. A friend replied that I was one day late. Traditionally, beans are cooked on a Monday when the servant, housekeeper or wife washed clothes. 

It was a Tuesday when I decided to cook beans and rice.

Another friend ask me, facetiously, to FedEx him some. I told him that the best I could do is take a photograph of the dish before the family voraciously descended upon it. After posting this nice place setting on Facebook, a few friends requested my recipe, so here it goes.

Soak overnight a one pound bag of red kidney beans by filling the pot with water about one inch from the top of the beans. When you awake, the beans will have soaked up most of the water. Do this especially if you are gonna slow cook it in a crockpot!

The beans usually cook in a regular pot within five or six hours, so the sooner you start, the sooner you can eat!

Chop one medium onion, fine and three large stalks of celery with the leaves, if possible and chop fine about three cloves of garlic. Throw all of this together in a pot of boiling water with the beans for about five minutes and then turn down the heat to about simmer, or on my stove, where the dial sets at 10 o'clock. Make sure the water level is always just above the beans. While you are in a chopping mode, you can chop either fresh parsley or cilantro. Traditionally, it is parsley, but I sometimes use cilantro to change the taste a bit.

Then, as the beans are cooking, add about one table spoon of Worcestershire sauce, a pinch or two of cayenne pepper and two bay leaves. I wait until about five minutes before I serve it to add sea salt. Adding salt earlier just makes the beans tough!

Then, go about your daily chores or if you crockpotted it, leave for work and return home in the evening to do this. If you are at home, you can occasionally stir the pot and make sure the water level is just above the beans. If in a crockpot the water level usually stays high, especially if you had soaked them the night before. In the fifth or sixth hour, you can start to mash the beans to help create a thick bean texture or soup which is why, besides having it burn,  you wanna maintain the water level. You accomplish that by using the back of a large spoon ( I have a favorite wooden spoon for the job! ) and start crushing the beans up against the sides of the pot. You don't have to crush all of the beans... just enough to create that soupy texture.

I use brown rice because it is healthier, but traditionally white rice is used. White rice
doesn't take as long to cook as brown rice, but while either version is cooking, you can cut and add your favorite piece of meat.

Traditionally, when feeding a large family, or just a few Cajuns, a ham bone is used and it is added as soon as the beans are cooking, but I find with this recipe, the meat should be added just about ten or twenty minutes before serving... long enough for the rice to cook. With this recipe, I used a small ham steak cubed with one and a half andouille sausage, sliced. If I'm using hot Italian sausage, or any other pork product, I normally cook it separately to get rid of the fat content, but again, traditionally, New Orleanians feel the fat adds to the taste and they just add it to the beans as is. 

I feel adding any meat to the beans earlier than that adds to the sauce, but dries out the meat and makes it rubbery or tough.

When the beans are soft and the bean sauce texture is creamy, you are ready to serve it over rice. Sprinkle a little chopped parsley on top and have at it...

Bon Appetit...

Copyright 2013/ Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"I Thought You Needed Some Sort of Commendation!"

No editorial comments needed...
It's funny. You just never know what's gonna happen on Facebook sometimes. When my muse slaps upside the head, usually around ten at night, I create what I call my "beddy-byes." It is my silly way of inviting the Sandman to your Facebook page. I don't always post the song spoofs that I write, but if I start laughing at myself or one of the beddy-byes that I would be writing at the time, I post it. Some are really good... and some have a moment or two, but if I am on the computer at that time, I usually try to cap the day with a goodnite "beddy-bye."

Well, there is this group page that I post almost every time I post my beddy-byes. It has gotten to a point where, with the exception of two or three other members, I have back to back to back beddy-bye posts. The group page was created by a music man who worked for many, many years in the rock 'n roll biz and thought it'd be fun to post music vids and new acts on this page. It has been around, to my knowledge over two years, but in the last few months, for whatever reason, fewer and fewer folks post or even visit the site.

As Phil and Don once sang, "it's so sad to see a sweet thing die!"

But I got in the habit of automatically posting on his site regardless of whether anyone reads it or not and one day, I opened up the page to see someone had changed the cover photo to read, "Reflections" ... The Daily Musings of Ben Bensen!

At first, I thought I had gone to another cyber world where everything is created by Ben Bensen. It kinka freaked me out, Twilight Zone, type freak out, but then I saw a comment that read, 

"Well with all of your posts, I thought you ought to receive some sort of commendation! lol

They assured me that it was just a temporary thing and that it would go back to the original name eventually. I replied to them that I just write those spoofs for my own enjoyment, but I was touched and very flattered with their playful spoof on me.

As everyone knows, Facebook is full of quick one syllable kudos and "like-styled" acknowledgement that says that even if they didn't actually read it, or like it, your post has been seen by them.

It was truly a nice acknowledgement... and so well designed!

I'll have to ask where they got those beautiful curly-cues from. I like those!

Copyright2013/ Ben Bensen III

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Another in a Series of Nixon Galloway Paintings...

The Waco "Taper Wing"...
Serving as a trainer, sport plane, racer, mail plane and also as a high performance fighter, the Waco was a very versatile platform for the Waco Company. It was call the "Taper Wing" because of the back sweep of the upper wing outer panels, and the matching low wings. In 1928, Fearless Fred Lund performed the first outside loop in a commercial aircraft.

It was performed in a Waco 10T Taper Wing.

The Pacific Air Transport, which would soon be bought by United Airlines, used the speedy Waco to haul mail. In 1928, the Waco's 135 mph was considered pretty fast behind a 225 horsepowered Wright J-5 engine.

I love the blue swatches of sky Nick used to back light the aircraft!

Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III