Monday, July 24, 2017

Mrs. Renfro's Ghost Pepper Salsa with a Nacho, Beef & Cheese Platter

Recently at one of my favourite spots in Kensington Market for buying hot sauces one of the owners suggested I try Mrs. Renfro's Ghost Pepper Salsa which he said was about as spicy as store bought salsa gets.

And he was certainly right about that!

But, in addition to packing a serious punch, this award-winning salsa is also truly flavourful and is not just about the heat. It has three peppers in the ingredients: jalapeno peppers, green chili peppers and, of course, the marquee Ghost Peppers. The Ghost Pepper (or Bhut Jolokia) is considered to be one of the ten hottest in the world. According to Wikipedia the Ghost Pepper is "400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. The Ghost chili is rated at more than 1 million Scoville heat units". 

Now, of course, this salsa is not 400 times hotter than Tabasco or, needless-to-say, it would be inedible. It is, however, very hot. This heat is balanced by a terrific traditional salsa flavour, a nice smokiness and a hint of cilantro. It is a spectacular, winning salsa. I look forward to trying their full line up of sauces and salsas which includes a pumpkin salsa and a tequila salsa! 

Now, this particular salsa can be enjoyed any of the ways salsa generally can be but we are going to have it with a beef and cheese nacho platter. 

This is really easy to do and is a great Friday night fun family dinner or as a party appetizer.

First, buy a bag or two of your favourite nacho chips. Grate as much cheddar, pizza mozzarella or Monterey Jack (or any combination thereof) as you want to drown the nachos in. Put your nachos on an aluminum foil lined  shallow baking tray and cover them with the cheese. Put the baking tray into the oven at 300 degrees for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is fully melted and golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan start browning a pound of beef. You can add a packet of store bought taco or fajita seasoning or make your own by adding a tablespoon of chili powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon mustard powder, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, and cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste. 

Take your nachos covered with melted cheese out of the oven and top with the beef, a jar of sliced green olives, some sliced jalapenos, a large dollop of 14% sour cream and whatever else you like on top of nachos.

Then pour the Mrs. Renfro's into a side bowl for dipping (or if you are more adventurous pour some over top)and get ready for a fiery good time.

Wash down with ice cold beer. I really cannot recommend this salsa enough.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Police Brutality, Thunder Bay, Ryerson & more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List July 16 - 23

This week's list of articles, news items and opinion pieces that I see as must reads if you are looking for a roundup that should be of interest to The Left Chapter readers.

This list covers the week of  July 16 - 23. It is generally in order of the date of the article's release.

1) When Black Hair Violates The Dress Code

Kayla Lattimore, NPR

Raising teenage girls can be a tough job. Raising black teenage girls as white parents can be even tougher. Aaron and Colleen Cook knew that when they adopted their twin daughters, Mya and Deanna.

See the full article.

2) R. Kelly Is Holding Women Against Their Will In A “Cult,” Parents Told Police

Jim DeRogatis, BuzzFeed

As the R&B legend tours the country this summer, parents have told police that R. Kelly is running an abusive "cult" that's tearing families apart. Three former members of Kelly’s inner circle told BuzzFeed News similar stories.

Read the full article.

3) How Would Jagmeet Singh’s Ban on Racial Profiling Work?

Manisha Krishnan, Vice

Last week, NDP leadership hopeful and presumed frontrunner, Jagmeet Singh wrote an impassioned Twitter thread calling for a "federal ban on racial profiling."

Read the full article.

4) How could we cope if capitalism failed? Ask 26 Greek factory workers

Aditya Chakrabortty, The Guardian 

A brave group have become an example for Britain, and all of Europe, in taking back workplace control.

Read the full article.

5) I'm Done With Anti-Native Racism I See In Local Newspapers

Terese Marie Mailhot, The Huffington Post

The Barrie Examiner has been publishing numerous racist editorials by Joffre McCleary, whose bold statements include how 'savage' Indigenous people were.

Read the full article.

6) Police brutality jumped a racial fence with Minneapolis cop shooting of Justine Damond 

Shaun King, New York Daily News

More than 660 people have been killed by American police so far in 2017. This year is on pace to be the deadliest on record for people killed by American police since national databases began keeping track in 2013. No other developed nation in the world has 10% of that number. We are experiencing a full-blown crisis of police brutality in this country, but it's hardly getting any coverage as Donald Trump absolutely sucks the wind out of the news cycle every single day.

Read the full article.

7) My Mother Wasn't Trash

Joshua Wilkey, AlterNet

My mother died the day she turned 55.

This Sunday will be my first Mother's Day without her, but nearly a year after she died, I still find it impossible to be heartbroken over her passing. As I wrote in her obituary, she suffered from both mental and physical illness for much of her life. However, despite her struggles, she selflessly loved and supported those who meant the most to her. In so many ways, she loved those who society deemed outcast and unloveable, and through her relentless love of others, her relationship with God was readily apparent. While I miss her dearly, it would be selfish of me to wish that she were still alive and suffering rather than at peace.

Read the full article.

8) Cops ordered to pay brutalized woman $254K

Colin Perkel, Canadian Press

A woman brutalized by Ottawa police during her wrongful trespassing arrest and left naked for hours in a holding cell nine years ago has been awarded $254,000 in damages.

Read the full article.

9) The troubles in Thunder Bay should trouble all Canadians

Perry Bellegarde, Maclean's

In the wake of several unexplained student deaths and an attack that took the life of a young Indigenous woman, First Nations chiefs, leaders, educators and parents gathered in a school gymnasium at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School in Thunder Bay in early July to talk about a subject most Canadians probably prefer not to think about: racism.

Read the full article.

10) Government 'denying sexually abused children compensation'

Owen Bowcott and Kevin Rawlinson, The Guardian

Sexually abused children as young as 12 are being denied compensation by a government agency on the grounds that they gave consent, according to a coalition of charities.

Read the full article.

11) Toronto police officer charged after man, 19, beaten and blinded in left eye

Lorenda Reddekopp, CBC News

A Toronto police officer has been charged and is suspended with pay in connection with an attack on a 19-year-old man that left him with broken bones and a serious eye injury last December in Whitby, Ont.

Read the full article.

12) We're too late to stop global warming with renewables. We need to do something much more drastic, say scientists

Ian Johnston, The Independent

Humans must start removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as soon as possible to avoid saddling future generations with a choice between extreme climate change or spending hundreds of trillions of dollars to avoid it, according to new research.

Read the full article.

13) Renaming Ryerson University is not about sanitizing our history

Doug George-Kanentiio, CBC News

It's about removing the name of a man who was integral to one of the most shameful aspects of our past.

Read the full article.

14) Mike Vick was actually right about Colin Kaepernick

Shaun King, New York Daily News

Earlier this week, appearing alongside a cast of Fox Sports clowns who pretty much make a living off of hating Colin Kaepernick, Mike Vick auditioned for the lead role in "Get Out 2" — revealing in front of the whole world just how comfortable he is in the sunken place. It was a strange, painful thing to watch.

Read the full article.

15) More than half of black residents in GTA have been stopped by police in public, new report says

Alexandra Sienkiewicz, CBC News

A new report is shedding light on the types of interactions members of the black community in the GTA have with police officers.

Read the full article.

16) ‘Don’t rob yourself of your future’: Conservatives try to scare 12-year-old rape victim into giving birth

Travis Gettys, Raw Story

A former Alabama court official and a pregnancy counselor blasted a state court ruling that allowed a 12-year-old girl to have an abortion without parental consent after an adult relative raped her.

Read the full article.

17) Mélenchon, "La France Insoumise", populism: questions about the 2016-2017 electoral cycle and its implications

Pierre Rousset, International Viewpoint

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s presidential and legislative campaign this year was different from the previous ones. There was a huge change in the relationship to political parties in general and to his former Left Front allies in particular. It’s important to understand the reasons for this change, as well as the implications and the specific context in which it took place.

Read the full article.

18) In Flashy New Film, NATO Celebrates Nazi Collaborators Who Murdered Jews in the Holocaust

Ben Norton, AlterNet

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has come under fire for portraying Baltic Nazi collaborators as anti-communist heroes in a flashy new film.

Read the full article.

19) Pedro Hernandez is Rikers Island's new Kalief Browder

Shaun King, New York Daily News

New York City loves to brag about its liberal reputation. We have a progressive mayor. Democrats dominate the City Council. The city is so firmly anti-Trump that it seems he's literally afraid to come home nowadays. We have a Democrat in the governor's mansion. The state has a truly liberal attorney general. Yet, in spite of all of that, the justice system here continues to chew people up and spit them out every single day, ruining families and futures in the process. Our reputation does not match our reality.

Read the full article.

20) OPP charge Thunder Bay mayor, two others, with extortion

Tanya Talaga, David Bruser & Ainslie Cruickshank, The Toronto Star

The Ontario Provincial Police has charged Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs, a former police officer, with extortion and obstruction of justice in connection with an investigation into “allegations of criminal wrongdoing that include a municipal official and local resident.”

Read the full article.

21) Why I’ve never reported being sexually assaulted on public transport

Poppy Noor, The Guardian

The first time I was sexually assaulted on public transport, I was 12 years old. Though at the time I wasn’t sure whether I had been. Like many young women, I’ve never felt too confident in calling out these events with certainty.

David Bush, Rank and File

Watching the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs hearings on the Liberal government’s Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act this week you can see the louder parts of the business community time and again push a narrative that if the minimum wage goes up to $15 by January 1, 2019, and if the ESA is strengthened, the economy will be in shambles.

Alyshah Hasham, The Toronto Star

When Philip Alafe entered the Brantford police station at 6:50 p.m. on July 3, 2015, after being arrested, he told the booking officer he had mental health issues — depression and anxiety — as well as sickle cell anemia, a disease that leaves him in excruciating pain without his medications.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

They Are Marching Again! - United Jewish Peoples Order 1954

Vintage Leftist Leaflet Project

See the end of this post for details on the project.

Leaflet: They Are Marching Again! - United Jewish Peoples Order 1954

This contemporary leaflet looks at the (now largely forgotten and ignored) fairly rapid reintegration of Nazis, including war criminals, into the political, economic and military elite of West Germany after WWII, including figures like Alfred Krupp and Field Marshal von Manstein. 

(Click on images to enlarge)

When The Left Chapter began part of what I wanted to do on the blog was to show and highlight vintage public leftist election/political leaflets and booklets. While many of these have been offered with commentary to date, a very large collection of hundreds of them from several different sources remains and to preserve these often quite rare documents we will be posting them on a regular (almost daily) basis now often without or with minimal commentary so that people may have access to them as quickly as possible as an historical resource. 

While these will all be leaflets from a variety of different leftist viewpoints and countries, they are being posted as an historical/study resource and the views or opinions expressed in them do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or blogger.

All of these posts (as well as posts made to date) will be listed on the page: Vintage Communist/Socialist Leaflets (which is still being updated with past posts).

If you have any public, vintage leaflets or booklets you would like to contribute to this project please contact us via

Friday, July 21, 2017

Etobicoke "park stairs" story is a perfect example of the crass, reactionary, anti-regulatory nonsense that led to the Grenfell disaster

Photo from twitter via Shannon McKarney‏ 
By now almost everyone in  Toronto would have heard the story of newly minted Etobicoke folk hero  Adi Astl and how he built stairs quickly in a park for only $500 when city officials said building the stairs would cost $65,000 or more.

Astl allegedly hired a "homeless person" and in just a few hours presto! There were stairs down to the community garden. Take that "bureaucracy".

And, of course, all of the reactionary local media and pundits, as well as many members of the general public, scored this as a victory for the little guy that showed if we just got rid of all the "red tape", let folks like Astl and the private sector take charge, we could have all the things the city needed built faster and cheaper and he just proved it.

Except, of course, he did no such thing. All he proved is that anyone who paid no regard whatsoever to important safety or accessibility regulations, to such minor details as making sure the stairs have a proper foundation so that they won't collapse after a few months while being used by someone, to the stairs' longevity, or to the use of proper building materials for a public stairway, could build a visibly crappy and unsafe set of stairs in a short period of time for a relatively small sum of money.

The stairs he built are not remotely akin to an acceptable set and this is transparently obvious with even a cursory look at any photos of them. If a contractor built those for me in my backyard I would refuse to pay them.

The media pictures were kind to these stairs (they had their ideological reasons for this I suspect) and even in those they look like junk. If you turn to sources that provided more revealing reporting and photos of the stairs, such as a thread posted by Shannon McKarney‏ on twitter, you see that the stairs are clearly dangerous. They would not pass any number of essential city codes that, you know, want to ensure you are unlikely to permanently injure yourself or die using them.

They would also be totally impossible to use for people with accessibility issues and you have to step over a parking barrier to get to them! They are a total joke.

In spite of this Mayor John Tory actually thanked Astl for "taking a stand on this issue" and he was also de facto applauded by his local Councillor, the singularly ineffective and forgettable seat warmer Justin Di Ciano.


Right wing politicians and the mainstream media love stories like this that they can frame as showing that "initiative" and "getting things done" are being strangled by regulations, unions, bureaucrats, etc.

After all, if the city would allow folks like Astl and private companies to use the ultra cheap labour of "homeless people", ignore all the "red tape" and "just do it" we could have dangerous stairs to everywhere tomorrow and they would cost the taxpayers so much less money.

Wouldn't that be great?

There is a direct line from this thinking to the agenda of deregulation that led to the Grenfell Tower disaster that killed so many in London last month. In the United Kingdom governments waged war on so-called "burdensome regulations" for a generation to lower costs and "free" the private sector. As the New York Times noted:
Promising to cut “red tape,” business-friendly politicians evidently judged that cost concerns outweighed the risks of allowing flammable materials to be used in facades. Builders in Britain were allowed to wrap residential apartment towers — perhaps several hundred of them — from top to bottom in highly flammable materials, a practice forbidden in the United States and many European countries. And companies did not hesitate to supply the British market.

George Monbiot put it even more clearly in the Guardian:
For years successive governments have built what they call a bonfire of regulations. They have argued that “red tape” impedes our freedom and damages productivity. Britain, they have assured us, would be a better place with fewer forms to fill in, fewer inspections and less enforcement.
But what they call red tape often consists of essential public protections that defend our lives, our futures and the rest of the living world. The freedom they celebrate is highly selective: in many cases it means the freedom of the rich to exploit the poor, of corporations to exploit their workers, landlords to exploit their tenants and industry of all kinds to use the planet as its dustbin. As RH Tawney remarked, “Freedom for the pike is death for the minnows.”
When politicians, columnists and the media in Toronto applaud the construction of a visibly incompetent set of stairs in a park this is the agenda that they are doing it to reinforce.

Should properly constructed, safe, accessible, concrete stairs in this specific park that meet regulations and that are built using experts and properly compensated workers cost $65,000 or more? To be honest I don't know as I am no more an expert than the mayor or any number of pontificating columnists are. But I do know I would rather have them cost that than have substandard, inaccessible stairs installed that end up killing or harming someone just to save the city an amount of money that in the scheme of things is tiny.

And make no mistake that if these folks had their way costs would absolutely be cut through the elimination of such pesky things as safety and accessibility regulations. If they could combine this with slashing labour costs by destroying the city's unions and paying workers substandard wages or by contracting work out to companies with dubious labour practices (and there are lots of these in the construction or building sector) all the better.

Sadly, they also convince many members of the public with simple-minded narratives that the regulations meant to protect them are actually somehow a bad thing.

Heed Tawney's warning. Freedom for the pike is, indeed, death for the minnows. If these political forces succeed they would not just be cutting regulations for park stairs. And that should worry us all.

Bistro Style Minute Steak

Previously on The Left Chapter we have looked at a variety of ways to prepare delicious dishes using minute steak,  that relatively inexpensive and much maligned cut of beef you find at most grocery stores. These included Ukrainian "Scalloped Beef" RevisitedSchnitzel Style Minute Steak and Lemon Minute Steaks with Sauteed Mushrooms.

Today we are going to do a bistro style minute steak with a red wine based sauce. The sauce makes the steaks in this case and, for the sake of variety we will include two variations that you can do on the base recipe. This recipe is loosely based on a minute steak recipe in the terrific vintage cookbook The Steak Book. 

A great family dish, I like to make 6-8 steaks and then spoon the sauce over them at the end on a platter.


6-8 minute steaks
1/3 of a cup of dry red wine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 medium onion diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2-4 dashes cayenne pepper
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
1-2 cups sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (optional)

Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan.

Salt and pepper your minute steaks on both sides to taste and then fry them in the oiled pan until done to your liking (about 30 seconds for more rare to around one minute a side turning only once. I like to cook them for no more than 30 seconds a side as they are so thin). Set aside the steaks as you prepare them on a covered platter or on a platter in a warm oven to keep them warm while you prepare the sauce.

When the steaks are cooked add some more olive oil to the same saucepan (without draining it or wiping it clean at all) and then add all of the ingredients other than the green onion. This includes the mushrooms and Dijon mustard if you are using them.

Saute all of the ingredients over medium heat for several minutes until the red wine has been reduced to almost nothing. Then spoon the sauce over the platter of minute steaks and garnish with the green onion.

These steaks are great with rice, rustic style bread, a salad and some more red wine for drinking of course! I also like to serve them with lemon wedges as I find a bit of lemon juice on them adds a nice zest.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Master Chef's Outdoor Grill Cookbook w. Beef Roast on a Spit, Barbecued Bologna Roll & more -- Vintage Cookbook TBT

Vintage Cookbook: The Master Chef's Outdoor Grill Cookbook

Publication Details: American People's Press, 1960

Today we are looking at a really fun vintage cookbook that is just perfect for the season.

 The Master Chef's Outdoor Grill cookbook is a truly campy trip through the world of outdoor cooking c. 1960. From liver steaks to Barbecued Bologna Roll the menus times quite interesting.

On the upside, there are lots of great recipes and menus as well and it is an all charcoal book, just as it should be. No gas to kill the mood. In addition, the BBQs in the pictures all look amazing. I would love to get my hands on any them and especially the ones with two grills divided by a small island for your utensils, beer, etc.

The book starts with lots of basic tips on getting a grill going, types of charcoal and wood and whatnot. It then runs through a variety of BBQ menus and even ends with a handy set of dips, sauces and even alcoholic mixed drinks to make the backyard party complete.

(Click on images to enlarge)

Vintage Cookbook TBT List 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

PPP Struggles for TUC Freedom - Cheddi Jagan PPP of Guyana 1985

Vintage Leftist Leaflet Project

See the end of this post for details on the project.

Leaflet: PPP Struggles for TUC Freedom - Cheddi Jagan PPP of Guyana 1985

Recently we looked at a Guyanese People's Progressive Party leaflet written by its General Secretary -- and a pivotal figure in Guyana's history -- Cheddi Jagan, "The Truth About Bauxite Nationalisation"

Today we are looking at another PPP/Jagan leaflet,this one from 1985, "PPP Struggles for TUC Freedom"

"This booklet consists of aspects of the struggle of the People's Progressive Party to strengthen the trade union movement in Guyana; and to put the Trades Union Congress on a sound and militant footing where it unswervingly defends the workers' rights."

One highlight: "It is essential not merely to transfer ownership of the means of production (factories, land, machines, tools, etc.) from foreign-private to state, but also to change the relations of production with the aim of making socialist production relations predominant. Economic growth and nationalisation alone do not mean socialism. Although a certain level of economic development is a prerequisite for socialism it is not its content. Socialism is a class and political concept; its essence consists in the socialisation of the basic means of production, distribution and exchange and the establishment of the rule of the working people." 

(Click on images to enlarge)

When The Left Chapter began part of what I wanted to do on the blog was to show and highlight vintage public leftist election/political leaflets and booklets. While many of these have been offered with commentary to date, a very large collection of hundreds of them from several different sources remains and to preserve these often quite rare documents we will be posting them on a regular (almost daily) basis now often without or with minimal commentary so that people may have access to them as quickly as possible as an historical resource. 

While these will all be leaflets from a variety of different leftist viewpoints and countries, they are being posted as an historical/study resource and the views or opinions expressed in them do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or blogger.

All of these posts (as well as posts made to date) will be listed on the page: Vintage Communist/Socialist Leaflets (which is still being updated with past posts).

If you have any public, vintage leaflets or booklets you would like to contribute to this project please contact us via